Danedri Thompson
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Hiring a new city administrator will be challenging. That’s the word from  Gardner City Council member Steve Hale and Mayor Dave Drovetta.

The council selected members Kristina Harrison and Brian Broxterman to assist Drovetta in hiring a consulting firm to search for a new administrator during a meeting March 21.

Drovetta said the city administrator position is one of two city jobs that requires residency.

“That makes recruitment somewhat challenging,” Drovetta said.

Three consulting firms have offered to assist the city in its search, and Harrison, Broxterman and Drovetta will decide which company to use and at what cost.

“I don’t think it will be an easy process,” Hale said.

He cited a variety of challenges he believes the council will face in finding an administrator to replace Stewart Fairburn.

“We don’t have the best reputation in the development community,” Hale said.

Additionally, some of the current candidates for council have taken anti-development stances, which could create concern for potential administrator hires, he explained.

“We have a newspaper that tells us we’re not going to have sidewalks and trees,” he said. “That could be a concern.”

Drovetta said he doubted a city administrator candidate would accept the job without knowing who was going to be on the council. Three members of the five-member city council will be replaced during an April 5 election. There are eight candidates vying for three at-large seats, and none of the incumbents are seeking re-election.

“Like I said, it’s going to be challenging,” Drovetta responded.

Drovetta said the committee of three would solely select a recruitment firm. A new council would interview candidates for the city administrator position.

Fairburn served as the city’s administrator for a little more than 10 years. He accepted a position in Chickasha, Okla. His last day with the city was March 7. He starts his new job on April 1.

In other business, council members:

• approved the purchase of three new police cars, Ford Crown Victorias, from Shawnee Mission Ford. The city will pay no more than $65,860 for the new vehicles. The cost includes $4,500 for graphics and deductions for the trade-in of old cars.
The new cars will replace a 2006 Ford Crown Victoria with 88,152 miles; a 2008 Ford Crown Victoria with 90,335; and a 2008 Ford Crown Victoria with 82,095 miles.
The purchases were approved in the 2011 budget.

•  approved a conditional use permit for MARCK Industries, located at 800 N. Center Street. The company has operated a warehouse for recyclables including mixed plastics and mixed cardboard since 2007 and has been operating without a permit since that time.
Company officials requested a permit to expand operations in 2009, however the project was put on hold. City officials, however, determined that the company would need a conditional use permit. Although regular warehouses do not require permits, city code requires that a storage of products that are highly combustible requires a permit.

• approved an amendments to the city code that updated submission checklists for developers. The checklist updates include revised plat checklists and other application checklists.