- Associated Press - Saturday, January 3, 2015

SALINA, Kan. (AP) - The Saline County Commission has been barred from eliminating four administrative positions while a court case proceeds.

Saline County Judge Jerome Hellmer said the commission’s 2-1 decision to cut the jobs “appears to be arbitrary and capricious,” The Salina Journal (https://bit.ly/1rP9lM1 ) reports. The temporary restraining order he issued Friday means County Administrator Rita Deister, Road and Bridge Supervisor Dave Nowak, and Planning and Zoning Director David Neal will hang onto their jobs for now. The commission also voted Tuesday to cut the job of the health department director, which has been vacant since October.

Commissioners John Price and Randy Duncan said the change would save the county between $430,000 and $470,000 and would not hurt county services.

But attorney Bruce Wyatt argued in seeking the order that the commissioner was “incapable of making rational decisions.” Wyatt claimed he was aggrieved by the decision because it left the county without adequate management. Kansas statutes provide that an aggrieved person may appeal county commissioners’ decisions to district court.

A hearing on the lawsuit is scheduled for Jan. 12, which is the same day that the commission expands from three to five members. Duncan lost his seat in the last election and the three new commissioners said Wednesday they disagreed with the decision, with two indicating they would work to reinstate the four administrative jobs.

Wyatt said the decision by the county commission to eliminate the positions should have been discussed more.

“I think public officials have a duty to exercise their responsibilities with reason and not just summarily announce a major structural change in our county government on the spur of the moment without any support,” he said. “I think it is a violation of their duties as public officials to take actions that are not supported by facts and reason.”

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Information from: The Salina (Kan.) Journal, https://www.salina.com

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