Weston looks at hiring city administrator

After years of off and on discussions, it appears the City of Weston may finally pull the trigger to hire a full-time city administrator.

Weston mayor Cliff Harvey said at the Monday, Sept. 10 board of aldermen meeting that he had recently met with a consultant at an event for local elected officials. He felt that the time might now be right to pursue the hire of a city administrator to take the burden of duties from long time city clerk Kim Kirby.

Kirby has asked boards for assistance for many years, and over the last decade the city has considered the request. Most recently, a citizen survey was conducted under the previous mayor to see if residents believed the city needed to hire an administrator.

After the brief discussion Monday, the board held a special meeting Thursday, Sept. 13 and voted 3-1 to hire Executive Workforce Consultants, of Kansas City, to craft a job description, advertise for and recruit candidates for the position. Alderman Rebecca Rooney voted no.

The agreement will cost the city $4,500 and Michael Soler of Executive Workforce Consultants will begin work immediately. Soler himself serves on the City of Riverside’s planning and zoning commission.

Previously, aldermen floated the idea of hiring a part-time administrator, but this time will attempt to recruit a full-time employee. The salary and benefits of this potential city administrator are still undecided.

Also at the Sept. 10 meeting, the board approved the purchase of two laptops for police use. Currently, the Weston police are using laptops handed down from the Department of Defense nearly a decade ago.

The specially-designed laptops cost $2,000 each due to the rugged design allowing them to survive rough treatment officers during the course of duties.

Chief of police Terry Blanton said the police department needs three laptops to replace the aging units in the three city police vehicles, but he decided to purchase two now and plans to replace the third next year. This purchase will be the department’s first of new computer equipment instead of used.

During the meeting, Rooney questioned the cost of the laptops, asking if a consumer laptop at a cheaper price would work as well. A brief discussion ensued, with members of the board and audience members pointing out the police units are built with a hard shell and designed to survive impacts. The board voted unanimously to purchase two new hardened laptops.

The board also heard a report from city planning and zoning commission representative Beth McPherson — also the owner of the Weston Chronicle — on the city’s efforts to update it strategic plan. Master’s degree students from the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kan. met with the commission to assist the process. A public open house is planned in December for input on the process.