Barton County no longer has a County Administrator but it does have an Operations Director. Solid Waste Director Phil Hathcock now holds two “director” titles.
County commissioners said they needed someone who could handle day-to-day decisions now that the administrator’s position has been eliminated.
“We saw an opportunity to give Phil a heavier workload,” Commission Chairman Jennifer Schartz said on Monday. County Clerk Donna Zimmerman also helps during those times when Hathcock is unavailable.
The commission eliminated the administrator position after Richard Boeckman resigned last October. The five commissioners knew that without an administrator there would be more work for each of them, Schartz said. “We said we would step up our game.”
They now have regular meetings with department heads, who in turn have more autonomy than before, Commissioner Alicia Straub said. But they soon learned that they need someone in the leadership role on a daily basis.
“We talked about each of us taking a day here at the courthouse,” Commissioner Kenny Schremmer said. “But that wouldn’t work.”
“Because we are a group, no one person could make a decision for everyone,” Schartz said. They were pleased with what Hathcock has accomplished at the landfill, and decided they could “utilize him in a greater capacity,” Schartz said. “We also put Donna Zimmerman as his backup.”
“Phil’s a very intelligent man,” Schremmer said. “He has made the landfill really turn around.” He compared Hathcock’s management style to that of soon-to-retire Road and Bridge Director Dale Phillips. “Like Dale, he has gathered a team he can rely on. ... He makes sure everything is right.”
The same could be said of Zimmerman, Schremmer said.
Not having an administrator saves the county over $100,000 a year, Straub said.
Hathcock will receive another $12,000 in salary for the added work, Schartz said. Zimmerman will also receive compensation for her added duties, which go beyond her duties as County Clerk and County Election Officer.
Before and after eliminating the county administrator position, commissioners looked at how other Kansas counties operate.
“There are 105 counties and 105 ways to do things,” Schartz said. “We knew without an administrator we’d have some road bumps. We’re calling this a course correction.”