Jobs are disappearing from the Pratt headquarters of Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism. Some are going to Topeka while some are being left open.
Robin Jennison, KDWPT secretary, verified that an accounting position has been moved from Pratt to Topeka.
The accounting position in Pratt retired and was rehired in Topeka. A good deal of purchasing takes place in operations so part of purchasing may also be moving to Topeka. Jennison said he was not totally committed to making that decision right now but it is possible.
The moves were made because the people with the expertise in those offices need to be in Topeka for better office interaction.
"It was difficult to have an accounting position so far away," Jennison said. "Those jobs need to be in Topeka."
Jennison said other moves are coming. The ecological service chief was in Pratt but that position will be going to Topeka. The ecological service is concerned with threatened and endangered species.
Other than these positions, no more staff moves from Pratt to Topeka are expected.
"I don't foresee anything else up here at all," Jennison said.
With all the changes, Jennison said it would result in a loss of just a handful of jobs in Pratt.
Not everyone agrees with Jennison's estimate of job loss. Bill Hlavachick, Pratt County Commissioner and former KDWPT employee, said by his count at least five jobs were gone by early retirement or attrition with a potential of a total of eight to 10 positions at the top end.
Hlavachick estimates that in total KDWPT has lost 18 jobs through retirement and early retirement buyout with five of those from Pratt.
The impact of that loss goes beyond the person that no longer works in Pratt. In most cases the spouse also works and if the family has to move to get another job it results in a loss of two working people in Pratt, Hlavachick said.
"Any time you lose a job in a farm community you lose the spouse that works as well. In a small community any job loss is significant and has an impact," Hlavachick said.
To help counteract the exodus of jobs from Pratt, the city and Economic Development needs to get start getting the message to the senators and representatives in Topeka that KDWPT jobs in Pratt need to stay in Pratt and that Pratt has the talent to fill those jobs.
"We want to get a dialogue started," Hlavachick said. "Pratt as a community has to do more lobbying in Topeka.
Hlavachick said he and members of the Economic Development Board intend to go to Topeka to lobby for KDWPT jobs. They have the support of the city and county commissioners as well as the Pratt community.
Some jobs may be leaving Pratt, but the KDWPT headquarters will remain in Pratt including the assistant secretary. According to Kansas' statute, the assistant secretary has to be in Pratt, Jennison said.
While some positions are shifting and some are left open, a new position at Pratt could be on the horizon. With the addition of tourism to the department, it is entirely possible a spot may open up at the Pratt facility.
While the current financial situation in Kansas has reduced available funding for agencies across the state, it doesn't mean that it will stay that way.
"This agency is pretty lean employee wise. But if the economy turns around we could use some more folks," Jennison said.