Monday morning marked the second time the Barton County Commission tabled discussion on the controversial hiring of a human resources manager. It also marked the second time in as many weeks the matter sparked debate and dissension among commissioners.
In a three-two vote, commissioners opted to delay talking about the proposal. However, there was no specific date set for them to resurrect the question.
“I think we need to get through this budget season to know where we are on that,” Commissioner Jennifer Schartz said. Schartz was absent last Monday due to an emergency and it was she who moved this week to table the issue.
The motion was seconded and the vote taken. Schartz, Commission Chairman Don Davis and Commissioner Kenny Schremmer voted in favor with commissioners Alicia Straub and Homer Kruckenberg opposed.
“I just think things need to be discussed in an open meeting,” Straub said, after the motion had passed. Straub, who opposes the hiring of a human resource person, first brought the issue up when she requested it be added to the agenda last week.
At the June 13 meeting, Straub asked for the agenda amendment after she said read in the county’s newsletter that two commissioners and County Administrator Richard Boeckman had talked about the issue. Straub said the item suggested an individual for the job and a salary of $70,000, and she felt as though someone was already set to be hired.
However, both Schartz and Boeckman were absent. Davis said it was he who contacted Boeckman who in turn contacted Schartz about the job and a candidate was mentioned, and this interaction was mentioned in the newsletter, and they should be present for any discussion.
After much heated debate then, the question was tabled until this week. Schremmer and Davis voted to table while Straub voted against the move, believing there was enough information to make the decision. Kruckenberg abstained.
“We basically just ignored an issue that needs to be handled now,” Straub said Monday, pushing the matter. “It seems like a decision was made outside of an open meeting.”
“I don’t think we can afford it,” Kruckenberg said. “We don’t need more time.”