Leavenworth County holding off on hiring administrator
The Leavenworth County government will prepare its 2012 budget with its county administrator job still vacant after six months.
The Leavenworth County Commission voted Thursday, over strong objections from commissioner John Flower, to delay the process of hiring a new administrator until early August, after the commissioners have finished work on the budget.
Under the planned schedule, the county will have likely gone for nearly a year without an administrator in place by the time it hires a someone to take the position, as the plan calls for commissioners to start the hiring process again with a new pool of candidates. The delay comes after two of the commissioners' top candidates for the job turned it down after negotiations, and another took a job elsewhere before any offers were made, commissioners said.
The commissioners voted, 2-1, to delay the hiring of a new county administrator until at least Aug. 5, with a plan to begin advertising again for the job 30 days beforehand. Flower opposed the plan.
Flower said the commissioners should proceed immediately with the hiring process, and he suggested that the delaying of the decision represented an attempt to reverse the commission's decision to hire another administrator in the first place.
“Now we want to wait until the budget's over,” Flower said. “Well, what's going to be the next reason, and the next reason, and the next reason? It's just a way of usurping a resolution of this board.”
Commissioner Clyde Graeber said that wasn't the case, and that the purpose of the delay would be to wait until the commissioners' work assembling the budget was complete before restarting the intensive task of hiring a new administrator.
“I'm not in any big hurry to do this,” Graeber said.
Under the county's job description, one of the administrator's primary responsibilities is to oversee the preparation of the county's budget and its submission to the commissioners, with help from the county clerk.
Commissioner Bob Holland said the commissioners had not been able to find a suitable and willing candidate for the position out of the existing pool of candidates, and he said it wouldn't be beneficial to bring in a new administrator in the middle of the budget process.
Holland questioned the necessity of the administrator job, though, after Flower said the budget-preparation process was not so time-consuming that the commissioners needed to delay the hiring process by several months.
“You're making it sound like it's so simple,” Holland said. “If it's that simple, then why do we need an administrator at all?”
During a contentious discussion between the two, Flower pulled out a spreadsheet compiling the commissioners' rankings of the administrator candidates and said Holland had rated five of them as being qualified to perform the job, some of which were still available.
Holland said he had changed his opinion on the candidates after deliberating further.
“Maybe we didn't have the quality of candidates that we all thought we had,” Holland said.
The commissioners voted to hire another administrator in November, before Holland took office, though they did ask for Holland's input on the job description at that time.
Shortly after Holland took office in mid-January, the commissioners began considering the 60-plus administrator applicants, and they conducted their final interviews in late February. If they follow a similar timeframe the second time around, they may not hire a new administrator until September or October — nearly a year after former administrator Heather Morgan resigned, in October 2010.