A Leavenworth County commissioner made a motion Tuesday to not spend any more money on a lawsuit that challenged the contract of a former employee. No vote was taken on the motion.

A Leavenworth County commissioner made a motion Tuesday to not spend any more money on a lawsuit that challenged the contract of a former employee. No vote was taken on the motion.

Commissioner Bob Holland made the motion after Kansas Senior Judge Edward Bouker issued a ruling in which he declared the employment contract of former Human Resources Director Tamara Copeland invalid.

“Given the judge has made the final ruling, the bleeding needs to stop,” Holland said.

Bouker issued a written decision over the weekend. He ruled that Copeland’s employment contract with the county “was an attempt to improperly bind future boards in matters involving their own administration and responsibilities, thus violating public policy. The contract is thus invalid.”

The five-year contract was approved by the County Commission in 2016.

The contract called for Copeland to continue to receive her salary for the remainder of her contract period after her termination.

The lawsuit was filed in June 2017 after a change in the makeup of the County Commission.

Copeland was terminated from her position with the county in October 2017.

Copeland can appeal Bouker’s decision.

The judge’s written ruling also leaves the County Commission with the option of trying to recoup costs associated with attorney fees.

Bouker wrote in his decision that the County Commission must file a “proper motion supported by itemized statements of attorneys’ time, expenses and rates.” The judge said he will hear arguments for and against the motion if it is filed.

Holland voted for the contract when it was approved in 2016. And he has been critical of the lawsuit that was pursued by other members of the commission.

The traditionally three-member County Commission is down to just two members following the recent resignation of Louis Klemp.

Commission Chairman Doug Smith did not provide a second to Holland’s motion Tuesday. Smith said the motion died for a lack of second.

Holland complained the county is still paying legal fees related to the case.

Smith questioned whether additional legal bills will be submitted in the future now that the case is over.

Holland asked Smith if he had read a document provided to commissioners by legal counsel.

Smith said he received the document Tuesday morning before the meeting and had not yet read it.

Holland handed Smith a copy of the document.

“Read the first page,” Holland said.

After reviewing the page, Smith said the document indicates the county may be asking Copeland for payment of the County Commission’s attorney fees.

Smith said it is the duty of the commission to try to get that money.

“But you started the lawsuit,” Holland said.

Smith blamed the lawsuit on Holland and former Commissioner Dennis Bixby because they voted for the contract.

“That’s your legacy Bob,” Smith said.

Smith said that as a county commissioner, Holland had won the case.

“The judge said Leavenworth County was right,” Smith said.

At one point during the discussion, Holland said it takes two votes for the commission to approve bills.

Holland later indicated he did not want to provide a second to a motion to approve a check register.

The check register lists various payments by the county government for bills and other expenses.

The check register traditionally is approved as part of a consent agenda that includes other items. But Holland said Tuesday that he wished to take up each item from the consent agenda individually.

Holland voted in favor of other items from the consent agenda. But the motion to approve the check register died for a lack of second.

County Administrator Mark Loughry later said no legal fees were listed on the check register. But he said the check register included items such as insurance and utility payments that he would like to have processed.

Holland took time to review the check register during the meeting. He then joined Smith in voting to approve the check register as presented.

County Clerk Janet Klasinski said there will be legal fees on next week’s check register “and you can discuss it at that time.”

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