Thursday, November 27, 2014

County hires interim administrator to help during search

By DYLAN LYSEN, Herald Staff Writer | 6/13/2014

Franklin County has found a successor to its outgoing county administrator, but the new employee is only expected to be around for a few months.

The Franklin County Board of Commissioners on Thursday approved the hiring of Don Moler, former executive director of Kansas League of Municipalities, as interim county administrator and counselor. Moler is to fill the void left by Lisa Johnson, who is departing the position, while the board searches for a permanent successor.

Franklin County has found a successor to its outgoing county administrator, but the new employee is only expected to be around for a few months.

The Franklin County Board of Commissioners on Thursday approved the hiring of Don Moler, former executive director of Kansas League of Municipalities, as interim county administrator and counselor. Moler is to fill the void left by Lisa Johnson, who is departing the position, while the board searches for a permanent successor.

The board accepted a contract that will pay Moler $4,000 a month during his interim tenure. He will travel from his home in Topeka to work three days a week, Johnson said. The Kansas Association of Counties recommended Moler as an interim successor, Commission Chair Steve Harris said.

“I’m very pleased and look forward to working with the county commission and other county employees,” Moler said Friday.

Johnson announced her resignation as administrator and counselor May 28 to accept a position at Ottawa University as director of governmental, regulatory and legal affairs. Her resignation goes into effect at the end of June. Moler will serve as an interim administrator and counselor until the county can find a permanent successor for both positions, which could take up to three months, Johnson said.

Moler, who had a 28-year career with the League of Municipalities, said his work with the organization will help him with his new position. He worked as a research attorney, general council, and became director in 1999, he said. Moler retired from his duties with the organization at the end of 2013.

“I’m real familiar with many of the things that counties do on a regular basis,” Moler said. “While my background is with the city organization, I do have a lot of experience interacting with the entities and the statutes that govern counties in Kansas.”

Moler’s job is to keep the county moving along until the board of commissioners can find a permanent replacement to take over, he said. He is not sure how much he will assist with finding the successor. Harris said Moler has experience helping municipalities find new management employees and expects him to help the county find a new administrator and counselor.

“He’s got two qualifications for us: He’s an attorney, and by state statute we are required to have a county counselor,” Harris said. “And he’s got an extensive background for what he retired from in dealing with issues in the public sector. For an interim, we thought he would fit the position nicely, plus he also helped for municipalities in searches for talent for other organizations so he will definitely be assisting us in finding a permanent replacement in both county counselor and county administrator.”

Harris said he hopes to find a successor quickly.

“We certainly hope at the time Moler’s contract comes to an end in three months we will have identified the appropriate candidates to fill the position,” Harris said.

Harris said previously he hoped Johnson would help the county find a suitable successor for both her positions.

“We haven’t had any formal talks but I’m willing to assist any way I can,” Johnson said.

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