Salina City Commissioners Monday evening spoke out in support of Saline County employees, and the three Saline County department heads who last week were let go from their jobs without warning.
At last Tuesday’s Saline County Commission meeting, in a 2-1 vote, the commission did away with the positions of County Administrator, Road and Bridge Director, Planning and Zoning Director and Health Department Director. The move means Rita Deister (Administrator), David Neal (Planning and Zoning) and Dave Nowak (Road and Bridge) are all out of work as of January 1st. The position of County Health Director has been vacant since Bronson Farmer resigned unexpectedly in early October. Tuesday’s vote stopped the search to fill that position.
Outgoing Commissioner Randy Duncan and Commissioner John Price voted in favor of the motion to eliminate the positions. Commissioner Jim Gile voted “No”.
Duncan’s last meeting is Tuesday of this week. Next week, on January 12th, three new Commissioners will be sworn in. Monte Shadwick was elected in November. He will take over for Duncan who had been serving in District One for the past eight years. Luci Larson and David Smith were appointed by Governor Sam Brownback earlier this month as the first Commissioners to serve in the newly created Districts Four and Five.
A lawsuit has been filed in regard to legality the county action, and a hearing is scheduled for next week.
City commissioners Monday voiced dismay in the county’s decision, while voicing support support of the incoming new county commissioners, and optimism that they two boards could work together.
Commissioner Jon Blanchard asked that as a show of support he and his fellow commissioners take a symbolic 12 percent pay cut. The 12 percent represents the amount the city spends each year on an employee appreciation meal.
Blanchard then went a step further, and asked city staff to put together a proclamation for next week. As the new county commission takes office the City of Salina will declare it to be “Good Goverment Day”, or “Good Government Week”, to demonstrate a desire for good and responsible government.
Salina City Manager Jason Gage, in also voicing support of county employees, said that “it’s an atrocity how those three county employees were treated”. He said it’s important to let all of the county employees know that they have support.