Following the resignation of long-time County Administrator Richard Boeckman, Barton County Landfill Director Phil Hathcock was named county operations director in May 2017 to help fill this void.
However, County Clerk Donna Zimmerman said Hathcock’s title has now been changed to county administrator. This is an appointed position and job description doesn’t change.
“I will have the same duties I’ve had since May of last year,” Hathcock said.
The switch didn’t require a vote from the County Commission, Zimmerman said. But commissioners signed the necessary paperwork when they met Monday, April 9.
There were a couple reasons for the move, Zimmerman said.
First, there is currently a state statutory scheme in place that allows for a county administrator that outlines the role and responsibilities for this job, she said. One does not exist of an operations director.
But, Zimmerman said these statutes can change from year to year. So, if the county lets this job lapse and the laws change, it would require a county-wide vote to re-establish it.
“This just fits the statutes better,” Zimmerman said. “An operations director doesn’t exist in statutes.”
Second, Hathcock said the current county employee handbook already contains a job description for an administrator. This would have to be amended.
Boeckman, who resigned in October 2016, served as both the county counselor and the administrator. After his departure, the commission voted to not fill the administrator’s position, and has a contract with Ellsworth attorney Carey Hipp as counselor.
But, Zimmerman said Boeckman had a separate contract for each of these jobs. Hathcock will not be operating under a contract.