Commissioners elect new member as chairman
Leavenworth It was a whirlwind Monday for J.C. Tellefson.
With his wife, mother and an audience of about 50 well-wishers and county employees looking on, Tellefson was sworn into office as the newest Leavenworth County commissioner.
Two hours after the swearing-in, Tellefson's fellow commissioners elected him as this year's chairman.
And minutes afterward, Tellefson found himself on the short end of a vote for the first time as commissioner: A 2-1 decision to increase elected officials' pay, including commissioners', by 2.5 percent.
With the vote, commissioners' salaries will increase to $45,999 per year, an increase of about $1,100.
Tellefson said his vote wasn't a jab at elected officials; instead, he said, it was in keeping with a campaign promise he'd made.
"It isn't about the money," he said after the meeting. "It's about doing the right thing."
Though Tellefson said he would return the increase to the county treasury, he said he wasn't upset with the vote's outcome.
"We can't get good people to run for public office and do the public's work if you don't compensate them well," he said, noting Commissioner Dean Oroke's comment that commissioners weren't immune to cost-of-living increases.
Earlier in the day, Tellefson found himself at a loss for words briefly after his swearing in. He thanked his wife, Cheryl, and his mother, Mary Tellefson, then told the audience, "I look forward to working with both Commissioner Oroke and Commissioner (Clyde) Graeber. We have tremendous opportunities : I feel like I'm a 6-year-old and it's five minutes before my parents say it's OK to open the Christmas presents on Christmas Day."
Of his election as commission chairman on his first day in office, Tellefson noted it rotated among commissioners.
"First it was Clyde, then it was Dean. Now, I guess, it's me. I'll appreciate both of them keeping me out of trouble," he said.
In other business Monday, the commission:
¢ Approved, 3-0, appointing Tellefson as the commission's representative to the state Workforce Investment Board and Juvenile Justice Authority.
¢ Approved, 3-0, appointing Oroke and Tellefson as the commission's representatives to the Mid-America Regional Council board.
¢ Agreed, 3-0, to continue holding the commission's weekly meetings on Mondays and Thursdays.
¢ Agreed, 3-0, to continue printing public notices in The Mirror newspaper of Tong-anoxie at least until the county receives bids, which the commission will consider Jan. 29.
¢ Agreed, 3-0, to continue with the same list of approved depositories for county funds with the addition of the Bank of Kansas City in Overland Park. County Treasurer Janice Young told commissioners the Overland Park bank would not be used unless its rate of return was better than all of the eight Leavenworth County banks and the Kansas Municipal Investment Pool.
¢ Agreed, 3-0, that no redistricting of commission districts was needed. A recent breakdown showed the 1st District with a population of 19,500 people, the 2nd District with 20,752 and the 3rd District with 21,451.
¢ Agreed, 3-0, to keep officeholder meal and mileage reimbursements at their current levels ($6 for breakfasts, $8 for lunches and $12 for dinners where official business is conducted and 40 cents per mile for use of private vehicles on official business).
¢ Met in executive session for 10 minutes to discuss a personnel issue and legal matter with the county's human resources director and county counselor.
¢ Met in executive session for 15 minutes to discuss Homeland Security issues.