County offices close for Thanksgiving
Barton County offices will be closed Thursday and Friday for the Thanksgiving holiday.
The landfill will be closed Thursday, open from 8-11 a.m. on Friday, and resume regular hours on Saturday.
All emergency services will remain in normal operation.
Barton County Commissioners said Monday that they may eliminate the county administrator position, left empty since Richard Boeckman resigned on Oct. 21.
It’s something they’ve talked about for the past month, in public meetings and with department heads, Commissioner Jennifer Schartz said.
The county by statute must have a legal counsel, a separate job that was also handled by Boeckman, but it doesn’t have to have a paid administrator.
Commissioners kept this in mind last week as they spent three days attending the Kansas Association of Counties conference.
Commissioners Alicia Straub and Jennifer Schartz both commented Monday that the commission is “on the right track” at is proceeds without a paid administrator.
“I used the opportunity to visit with every county that I could that operates without an administrator,” Straub said. That includes counties that larger than Barton, such as Riley and Leavenworth.
“There’s lots of options out there,” Straub said, adding that if people will be patient with the commission, “I think we’ll make a better county government here.”
“I do agree we can get along without an administrator,” Commissioner Homer Kruckenberg said. “But it’s going to cost more and be quite a bit more work.”
Commissioners shared other impressions from the KAC conference, with Chairman Don Davis starting the conversation.
“This attendee wasn’t too impressed with the way they operated it this year,” Davis said. Moving the meeting to the Kansas City area reduced the number of western Kansas participants, including vendors.
Straub, in contrast, said, “I found a lot of great information.” She brought back handouts about two programs, “The Graying of America – Implications for County Governments,” and “Employment Laws for Counties.”
Barton County will be affected by the Fair Labor Standards Act and its new overtime rule, set to go into effect Dec. 1, she said. Under the rule, certain salaried employees who make less than $913 a week must be paid overtime for more than 40 hours of work. “It does affect a few of our county employees,” she said.
Commission Ken Schremmer picked up information on large equipment items, such as knowing when to buy or trade road and bridge equipment. Schremmer also commented on a speech by former Gov. Bill Graves, who made an appeal to the Legislature to “take another look at the tax lid.” The state’s new property tax lid was to be imposed on counties in January 2018, and has been moved up to 2017.
Also attending the conference were Road and Bridge Director Dale Phillips, Engineer Barry McManaman and County Appraiser Barb Esfeld.
Esfeld attended a session on the tax lid and its “flaws.”
“It’s more important than ever to work with our new legislators,” Esfeld said. “There are things that could not be fixed under the tax lid.”