WESTMORELAND, Kan. — For the first time since Pottawatomie County Administrator Robert Reece announced his retirement, the county commission was tasked with discussing the next steps in filling the position during their Monday meeting.
HR Director Crystal Malchosa presented commissioners with an estimate of hiring a third party search committee to recruit for the position. The county is currently a member of third-party firm ICMA which was presented as the most cost-efficient.
“We’re already a member of ICMA and they range anywhere from $15,000 to $30,000 to do the recruitment for the administrator position,” Malchosa said.
Commission Chair Travis Altenhofen questioned whether the position needed to be refilled and suggested changing the name of the position and restructuring with an administrative cabinet.
“Right now you have a segregation of duties from clerk, treasurer, sheriff, deeds, the commission. This is essentially the same where you wouldn’t have one specific person because the county administrator is more powerful than the county commission,” Altenhofen said.
Altenhofen’s suggestion was met with sharp opposition from Commissioner Dee McKee who said it would do more damage than good to replace the county administrator with essentially a chain of command staff.
“I’ve been in a county without having a county administrator. Knowing that you’re not going to be there to be part of that administrative board and you’re still going to have to have feedback, who are you going to go to – all of them? It becomes very difficult,” McKee said.
Altenhofen says going the route of an administrative cabinet would create more accountability.
“The concern I’ve had is over who is driving the ship and is the information making it back to the commission,” Altenhofen said. “I take the insurance claim on the roof as the latest and biggest financial – and we’re talking $40,000 here and the ball got dropped, by who?”
Vice Chair Pat Weixelman says if there’s somebody on the grounds looking for insurance purposes, there should be someone walking by that person as it happens.
“As far as I’m concerned there was probably a couple of people that dropped the ball,” Weixelman said.
Weixelman also disagreed with Altenhofen’s suggestion that the county administrator is more powerful than the county commission, but says he’s not in the business of running the county.
“I’m not in the position for four or five people to be answered in a group to make decisions because it’s not in my mind going to work,” Weixelman said.
The commission voted to come back to the county administrator discussion at the end of August before they move forward with posting the position. Chad Kinsley has assumed the role of acting county administrator in the interim.
In other business Monday:
The commission discussed the possibility of filling the vacant IT director position full-time and spoke with Jim Lund from Fox Business Systems about how that might look. Lund was the back up IT person for the county prior to the departure of the former director. The commission decided to keep Lund on the payroll and re-evaluate later in the year. The county opted to not fill the position in a full-time capacity for now.
A motion to increase the pay rate for a potential new tax supervisor position was approved at a starting rate of $15.58 per hour. This was at the request of the Treasurer’s Office after it had difficulty filling the position recently. The adjustment is being paid out of the Treasurer’s budget.