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Patzner offered job as county operations director
Action came after weeks of discussions, executive sessions
matt patzner
Barton County Finance/Human Resource Manager Matt Patzner addresses the County Commission Tuesday morning. Patzner was offered a contract as the county director of operations. - photo by DALE HOGG Great Bend Tribune

In action not taken lightly by Barton County Commissioners, Matt Patzner Tuesday morning was offered a contract as the new county director of operations, a possible precursor to being the county administrator. As of Tuesday morning, Patzner had not decided on whether to accept or not.

Patzner currently serves as the county’s human resources/finance director. Should he take the job, he would continue in those rolls.

The contract is for two years and calls for an annual salary of $100,000. It would take effect Jan. 1, 2022 if accepted.

The move follows weeks of discussions and closed-door sessions with Deardoff Consulting, the Derby firm hired to help with the selection process, and a day-long special meeting last Wednesday to conduct the five candidate interviews.

The action Tuesday morning followed two executive sessions, one for 25 minutes and one for 15, to discuss the selection. 

Offering the job of operations director in lieu of administrator is not unprecedented, said District 5 Commissioner Jennifer Schartz. Current Solid Waste Director/Facilities Manager Phil Hathcock served in that role before being named administrator. 

Barton County Engineer Barry McManaman was named interim county administrator by the County Commission on Aug. 30. The appointment of McManaman was needed following Hathcock’s stepping down as county administrator on Aug. 24. 

McManaman continued as engineer. The interim arrangement called for compensation of $1,000 per month in addition to his current pay and noted the position is only temporary. 

After leaving the administrator post, Hathcock was appointed as facilities manager, in addition to his duties as solid waste director. The administrator was making around $100,000 or a little more. Between his two jobs, Hathcock will now makes $100,000 ($85,000 for the landfill and $15,000 for facilities).

Hathcock took the job as administrator after the county operated for about two years without an administrator. Richard Boeckman resigned from the post in October 2016 and Hathcock was named operations director in May 2017 and promoted to administrator in April 2018.

On Oct. 12, the commission approved hiring Deardoff at a cost of $11,000. 

McManaman will now leave the position as interim administrator as of Jan. 1.

Barton County Commission meeting at a glance

• Held two executive sessions, one for 25 minutes and one for 15, to discuss the selection of a new county administrator, a non-elected position.

They emerged and reconvened in open session and offered county Finance/Human Resource Manager Matt Patzner a contract as county director of operations.

• Approved a county risk management insurance proposal from EMC Insurance Company for $299,783. This covers liability, property and workers compensation.

Barton County received Risk Management and Insurance proposals for 2022 until Nov. 12. Kansas County Association Multiline Pool (KCAM) based in Topeka, Kansas Workers Risk Cooperative for Counties (KWORCC) based in Topeka and EMC Insurance Company of Des Moines, Iowa, presented proposals. EMC has an office in Great Bend. This two-year renewal, and the county has worked with EMC for 20 years. 

Emergency Management Director Amy Miller presented the details.    

This item was tabled on Dec. 7.  

• Approved cereal malt beverage license renewals.

Per state statute, no retailer shall sell any cereal malt beverage without having secured a license for that business. When a business is located in the unincorporated portion of the county, that application shall be made to the commission, County Clerk Donna Zimmerman said.

There were a total of seven licenses granted.

• Heard an update on the Neighborhood Revitalization Plan Update:

After adopting both a Resolution and the interlocal agreement supporting the Neighborhood Revitalization plan in September, the agreement was submitted to the Kansas Attorney General and the document has been approved, County Appraiser Wendy Prosser said.

The commission held a public hearing to receive comments on the Barton County Neighborhood Revitalization Plan on Sept. 27, but none were presented. This plan is intended as a cooperative effort with area taxing districts to promote the revitalization and development of Barton County by stimulating new construction, rehabilitation, conservation or redevelopment within Barton County.  

This was followed by the approval of a resolution effective Jan. 1, 2022. It was submitted to area taxing districts for review and approval.

It was also followed by the approval of the agreement joining Barton County to area taxing districts under the plan. Taxing districts include area cities, school districts, recreation commissions, townships, Barton Community College as well as fire, cemetery, hospital, extension, watershed and library districts.  

Under the agreement, identified districts are given the option to join.

• Approved the Capital Improvement and Equipment Replacement plans.

Through the budgeting process, Barton County transfers cash, as savings, to both the Capital Improvement and the Equipment Replacement funds. Related plans, revised annually, allow the county to schedule for projected long-term expenditures, said Finance Officer Matt Patzner.

• Approved revisions to the county’s procurement policy.

Grants/Compliance Manager Sue Cooper presented the details. Mostly, the changes center on increasing the informal bidding thresholds to better align with the rise in costs of getting things fixed and replaced. It would make it easier for department managers to operate and for local vendors to bid, commissioners said.

• Approved the purchase of new chairs for the Health Department at a cost of $20,072 from Office Products Incorporated of Great Bend. 

The department sought bids for lobby and exam room chairs. Requirements included the purchase of 19 lobby chairs and five exam room chairs, all with urethane arm caps, steel frames, back of seat clean out and delivery and set-up, said Health Director Karen Winkelman. The department was awarded a federal COVID-19 health grant that will cover the purchase.

It wasn’t the low bid, but it was local and allowed under the grant guidelines. And, commissioners wanted to keep the money local if possible.

• Approved a proposal from Mercer Insurance for Health Department medical malpractice insurance.

The Health Department, as a public health provider, must maintain adequate medical malpractice insurance, Health Director Karen Winkelman said. The county received the proposal from Mercer Consumer, a service of Mercer Health and Benefits Administration LLC for $4,823.

• Approved the purchase of Office 365 Business for up to 185 users from Cloud of Altadena, Calif., at a cost of $31,205.

The software enables all computer users to have email hosting, protection and archiving as well as a desktop version of Office, Information Technology Director Dereck Hollingshead said. It also allows for Microsoft Teams virtual meetings.

• Appointed of special deputy coroners. 

Named were: Barton County, Dustin Daniels, Scott Fleming, Meghan Kern, Sheila Phillips, Melissa Prosser, John Stettinger and Laura Webster;  Ellsworth County, Shawn McGowan; Russell County, Chris Venters and Ashley Fowler; and Stafford County, Melissa Dove and Doris Tompkins.

Dr. Patrick Stiles became 20th Judicial District coroner on Nov. 1, 2020, and he has subsequently made recommendation as to the appointment of special deputy coroners as prescribed by Kansas Statutes and by county resolution. Special deputies serve one-year calendar terms, said Interim County Administrator Barry McManaman.

• Appointed the following people to the Fire District No. 2 Board of Trustees for uncompensated terms expiring in 2023: Sarah Younger in Albion Township; Michael McCurry in Eureka Township; Shannon Donovan in Hoisington; and there were no applicants for Olmitz. 

Also, Richard Ward was named to unfilled position for South Homestead Township which would term in 2022.

Per the county resolution which created Fire District No. 2, the members of the Fire District Board of Trustees shall consist of not more than one appointee from each participating township and not more than one from each participating city, Interim County Administrator Barry McManaman said. 

• Appointed Melissa Nech to the Central Kansas Library System Board for a four-year, uncompensated term.

The CKLS supports library services in 17 counties in Central Kansas: Barton, Cloud, Ellis, Ellsworth, Jewell, Lincoln, Mitchell, Osborne, Ottawa, Pawnee, Phillips, Republic, Rooks, Rush, Russell, Saline and Smith. The board meets twice a year to conduct business of the system and elect members to the Executive Committee. The Executive Committee meets monthly to conduct the general business of the system.

The county appointee must be a resident of the regional library system taxing district, this is, within Barton County but outside the district of any local legally established public library,Interim County Administrator Barry McManaman said.  

• Reappointed Richard Bealer, Solid Waste/Facilities Director Phil Hathcock and District 5 Commissioner Jennifer Schartz to the Center for Counseling and Consultation Governing Board. 

The county solicited applicants for the board which makes recommendations on mental health services in Barton County and the surrounding area, Interim County Administrator Barry McManaman said.