A former human resources director for Leavenworth County argued Wednesday that the county clerk and county treasurer are overpaid and the register of deeds is underpaid. And a former county commissioner accused the county clerk of not paying taxes.
A former human resources director for Leavenworth County argued Wednesday that the county clerk and county treasurer are overpaid and the register of deeds is underpaid.
And a former county commissioner accused the county clerk of not paying taxes.
The comments came as county commissioners were scheduled to consider a resolution that would have set annual salaries for County Clerk Janet Klasinski, County Treasurer Janice Van Parys and Register of Deeds Stacy Driscoll at $84,739 each. But the resolution also would have provided Klasinski an additional annual stipend of $11,686 for serving as the county’s chief election officer.
Commissioners ended up taking no action on the resolution Wednesday. They plan to revisit the matter in the future.
Without adoption of the resolutions, the three county elected officials will continue to receive the salaries that were approved for them by the commission earlier this year.
During a public comment portion of the meeting, former Human Resources Director Tamara Copeland argued that the resolution does not accurately reflect the total proposed wages for the county clerk and treasurer.
Copeland also argued that other counties have established pay plans for elected officials that utilize factors such as years of experience, education and professional certifications.
Salaries for county elected officials have been placed on pay plans. But Copeland said the resolution would establish a flat base rate that would not address things such as experience and education.
“This action makes no sense,” Copeland said.
Copeland and Driscoll are sisters.
Copeland was terminated as the county human resources director in 2017.
Her employment contract with the county was challenged in court by the County Commission.
Last year, a judge ruled the contract was void and dismissed counterclaims that had been filed by Copeland.
Copeland is appealing the judge’s ruling.
At one point during Copeland’s remarks, Commission Chairman Doug Smith said he was cutting her off, saying she had spoken for about 15 minutes.
“We can’t stay here all morning,” Smith said.
At least one audience member could be heard saying that Copeland should be allowed to finish.
Copeland said she was almost finished with her remarks, and she was allowed to continue.
Following Copeland’s remarks, Smith said he would ask the sheriff to remove anyone who made an outburst during the meeting.
Sheriff Andy Dedeke and Undersheriff Jim Sherley were in the audience Wednesday.
Former County Commissioner Bob Holland also spoke Wednesday.
Holland said he was appalled because Klasinski and Van Parys are receiving “gigantic raises.”
Citing what he said are public records related to Kansas Department of Revenue tax warrants, Holland accused Klasinski of not paying taxes.
“This is very upsetting to me,” he said.
Klasinski, who did not attend Wednesday’s meeting, did not immediately respond to email and phone messages.
Commissioner Jeff Culbertson asked Holland if he received longevity raises during his three terms on the commission.
Holland indicated he did not receive longevity raises as a commissioner.
Smith said Culbertson had worked for the county government for 30 years before being elected to the commission. Smith asked Culbertson if he received a longevity pay increase when he joined the commission.
Culbertson indicated he did not.
When commissioners later took up the proposed resolution, Culbertson said there were two issues to be addressed.
He said one issue concerned setting the salaries for three positions. He said the other concerns are whether elected officials should be removed from a pay plan.
“I think we need a lot more discussion on it,” Culbertson said.
The County Commission is about to expand from three members to five.
Culbertson said it may be a good idea to delay making a decision until two new members have joined the commission.
Culbertson said rewarding elected officials for experience is “actually a new concept.”
“I don’t consider being an elected official a lifetime career,” Commissioner Vicky Kaaz said.
Kaaz expressed concern about having elected officials on a pay plan. She said elected officials can bring salary requests to the commission.
Kaaz said she considers re-election as the reward for an elected official’s longevity.
During the discussion, Copeland returned to a lectern to address commissioners. But Smith said the discussion was not a public hearing. He asked the sheriff to remove Copeland from the meeting.
Sherley approached Copeland, who was allowed to return to her seat.
Culbertson suggested revisiting the issue during a work session.
County Administrator Mark Loughry asked if commissioners wanted to wait until the new members have joined the commission.
Smith and Kaaz said they are fine with waiting.
A special election to select the two new commissioners is scheduled for March 26.
The county treasurer did not attend Wednesday’s meeting but she was aware of Copeland’s comments. After the meeting, Van Parys said Copeland’s “comments were highly inappropriate.”
The register of deeds also did not attend Wednesday’s meeting. But after the meeting, Driscoll said she is “fine with my pay.”