The Harvey County Commission closed out 2018 by taking action to address the salaries of non-elected personnel that were lagging behind market average — approving a three percent adjustment in wages above the normal market and step increases in 2019 and an additional three percent increase in 2020 at its previous meeting. On Monday, in the commission's first meeting of 2019, the governing body then turned its attention to the salaries of elected officials.
With the county's non-elected employees, a market study was done to illustrate the salary discrepancies. A separate study was done for elected officials — of which there are far fewer qualifying employees (six total) — with some different results. Namely, only two of the six elected positions (Register of Deeds and County Commission) were found to have salaries that do not meet the current market average.
Bringing all of those salaries up was recommended by administrative staff, both to meet all the market average salaries and also to help create a salary range for newly elected officials.
"I think you really need to make the market adjustment at a minimum," said County Administrator Anthony Swartzendruber. "Otherwise, at some point in time, they're going to all fall behind."
Salaries for elected officials must be adopted through a resolution of the county commission, which Swartzendruber aims to bring before the governing body at its next meeting.
Discussion on Monday centered mostly on shaping that resolution and how the commission wants to approach meeting the market average — whether simply addressing the two salaries currently not at that level or to do that and make an additional 2.15 percent adjustment to the other salaries, though Swartzendruber noted there are a number of salary increases the commission could look at.
"The options are endless. There could certainly be more options for how you want to consider wage increases for elected officials in 2019," Swartzendruber said.
Having just taken action to raise the wages of non-elected employees, commissioner Chip Westfall voiced support for treating elected officials in a similar fashion and consensus from the rest of the commission was for administration to move forward with a resolution including the market average adjustments and 2.15 percent increase across the board.
In other business, the county commission:
Was updated on the replacement of the Solid Waste Transfer Station floor, with a contractors meeting being held recently. Swartzendruber noted that will likely lead to an addendum being added to the request for bids, of which a few are expected.
Learned that a number of the recent economic developments in Harvey County (i.e. Park Aerospace expansion, Weatherly Aircraft relocation) were included in the REAP regional update.
Received a report with the highlights and notable accomplishments for the county in 2018 including the evolution of the county's social media presence, changes to the 40-acre rule, the communications department's move to the computer-aided dispatch software and more.
Heard about changes to the billing process for antique tags from County Treasurer Emily Nichols. While the fee is still the same, all billings will now be sent out in January and February (instead of spaced out over the entire year based on last name).
Brought a complaint forward to Solid Waste Superintendent Rollin Schmidt about some lackluster customer service provided to a handicapped citizen recently, asking Schmidt to address the proper order of priorities with his employees.
Learned that the sheriff's office responded to a mutual aid request in Goessel on New Year's Eve, being called out to a disturbance at a residence where shots were fired with the suspect's wife and two small children in the house. Undersheriff Shawn Chapman noted a surrender was successfully negotiated, there were no injuries reported and the individual was taken into custody with no further incident.
Approved the reappointments of Aaron Swank, Carolyn McGinn and Kandy Fisher to the Harvey County Food and Farm Council, waiving second reading and designating the commission chair to sign.
Tabled discussion on the roof replacement for the 4-H building.
Approved the specs on a request for bid for a new Solid Waste pickup.
Approved the bid from Midway Motors for a 2019 Ford F350 4x4 to be used by the Noxious Weed Department. The bid was the lowest received at a total cost of $28,844.
Approved Resolution 2019-1 designating First Bank of Newton as the county's official depository.
Approved Resolution 2019-2, designating The Newton Kansan as the official county newspaper.
Held the annual meeting of the Public Building Commission, approving the previous year's minutes and assigning the same officers as the previous year, with Robert Nattier to serve as chairman, commissioner Randy Hague to serve as vice-chairman and Gary Roth to serve as secretary.
Heard a presentation on the newly-opened Resiliency Center (215 S. Pine St., Newton) to help with recovery efforts following the traumatic events that occurred at Excel and elsewhere in the county on Feb. 25, 2016, with a number of services to be provided to all those affected — including those outside of Harvey County who were impacted.
Approved an agreement with North Newton for the expansion of its walking path and consent to an annexation with the city, as shown by Garber survey, to facilitate that expansion.