Archive for Thursday, July 12, 2001

Council considers new staff positions

July 12, 2001

Gerald Cooper includes helping the city council sleep at night a part of his job description.

"They have their own job during the day," Cooper said. "They don't want to lie awake at night worrying whether or not city business is getting done."

Cooper, De Soto city administrator for almost three years, said he takes care of everything under the city council.

"There's only so much they can do because they have families, children's activities and everything else to do with daily living," he said. "I'm pretty much their eyes and ears."

De Soto has had the position in place for about three years. The city of Eudora has been talking about adding a city administrator about as long. The talk continues with work on the 2002 budget. At Monday's study session city officials discussed how to fit both a full-time engineer and city administrator into the budget, which has about $140,000 set aside for general government salaries.

Mayor Ron Conner said the budget for salaries should be reduced from $149,000 to $140,000, allowing for only one full-time position. Others differed in their opinions of which position the city needed more.

Council member Willene Blackburn thought the city needed a full-time administrator while an engineer could be paid as needed. She also cautioned against cutting back salaries too much.

"You're going to get what you pay for," she said. "You may get great people, but you won't get Electric Superintendent Eldon Brown said the city needed an engineer to make sure projects were going as they should.

"You're going to need one with the growth we're having," Brown said. "He needs to inspect the work he's approving. We have to assess and inspect, and it's a problem because it's not our field."

Conner pondered whether the city could hire someone to do a little of both jobs.

Council member Rex Burkhardt said the city should take at least 90 days to hire anyone for a new position.

"You have to get the right person in that position," Burkhardt said.

Conner said the possibility of adding the position seems to come up annually.

"It's just at budget time every year we talk about whether to add that type of position," he said. "So we're going forward with the council, and the decision has to be made whether we really want to do that."

Although the position may be budgeted, Conner said, the council would still have to make the ultimate decision, and the city must have money to finance the position.

"If we do, we have to figure out what the responsibilities of that position are and how it fits in with our current operating structure," Conner said. "As we go through the budget and figure out where the mill levy actually is and how the numbers all add up, if we can, the desire is to have the flexibility to have that position in there."

City Clerk Donna Oleson said most cities have a city administrator, especially towns the size of Eudora.

"I just think Eudora has gotten big enough," Oleson said. "We're getting more and more city employees. All areas have grown."

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