Archive for Thursday, September 27, 2007

Commissioners continue steps for new administrator

September 27, 2007

Leavenworth County commissioners have laid out a draft job description for the county administrator's position.

The document described the administrator as an appointed official that would act "as a liaison between elected county officials and the Board of County Commissioners."

Specific duties would include recommending an annual budget, identifying individuals for appointment, coordinating the administrative operations of all departments, supervising personnel, executing contracts and other documents and composing a policies and procedures manual for the board.

On the campaign trail, all three commissioners supported creating the position, which was nixed by Leavenworth County voters twice - in 1998 and 2002 - although Commissioners Dean Oroke and J.C. Tellefson ran on platforms saying they would bring the issue to a vote.

"I said I believe that we need this - and I believe that we need this - but I made a promise that we would put this to a vote," said Tellefson, the lone commissioner to vote earlier this month against removing the question of hiring a county administrator from the 2008 ballot.

Commissioner Clyde Graeber said he has always been an advocate for creating a county administrator.

"I have never wavered on my position," Graeber said.

"We're involved in things that, quite frankly, I never thought we'd be involved in," Graeber said. "I want to do the best job that we can, and I think with this position, and all the training and experience involved, we could do a better job for the people."

Former commissioner and Leavenworth resident Louis Klemp objected to Graeber's claim.

"Don't belittle yourself," Klemp said. "You guys have the capabilities."

Klemp further criticized the measure, saying he was not in favor of having a single point of contact for the county in the same way a city administrator or city manager is in municipal governments.

Robert Hessenflow, of Leavenworth, also spoke against the initiative, saying he was disappointed the commission denied the people the right to vote on the issue.

Hessenflow also asked about the cost and how much additional staff would be needed to support the position. Tellefson said, however, there would be a need for additional staff beyond the administrator.

"I really believe it's going to be between $75,000 and $80,000," Tellefson said, but later added, "We don't know what the cost is."

Graeber pointed out that by adding an administrator by resolution the position could easily be removed if found to be ineffective. But if instituted by a public vote, he said, the only way remove the position would be by another vote.

"This is a chance to test it, to see if it helps the commission," he said.

Tellefson said he respected all of the public comments and welcomed input from residents as the commission moves forward with determining what, exactly, the administrator's responsibilities will include.

Oroke said now is the time to start as it would take six or eight months to fill the position.

"We need to start now," he said, "So we can have this person on board before we start the budget process next May."

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