James Pruetting

Albert Rukwaro
Special to The Gardner News
Steve Shute, mayor, has recommended James Pruetting, Gardner police chief, be appointed as Gardner’s new city administrator, according to the agenda for the April 15 city council meeting.
Shute’s recommendation follows a search conducted by the Kansas League of Municipalities and interviews conducted by a panel that included Shute, Lee Moore and Rich Melton, council members, as well as Rob Kirk, Johnson County Fire District #1. Others on the interview panel included representatives of the school district and three community members appointed by other council members.
Pruetting’s new position will pay him an annual salary of $150,000 plus health and retirement benefits.
The city will provide Pruetting $3,000 for a down payment for purchase or lease of a personal car, plus $500 per month car expenses.
The city will also pay tuition fees for Pruetting to acquire a graduate certificate in city and county management and will reward him with a $15,000 one time cash bonus upon graduation. He has two years to complete the coursework. During its Nov. 19 2018 meeting, the council instructed Laura Gourley, then interim city administrator, and Alan Abramovitz, director of human resources, to remove language in the job description that required city administrator applicants to have a masters’ degree in public administration.
Pruetting will also cash-in any unused vacation hours accrued during his current position as police chief, and the city will provide six weeks of paid vacation effective April 29 and six weeks’ vacation annually thereafter.
Pruetting will also receive $2,500 for every 250 acres the city annexes during his term up to a maximum of 4,000 acres. That would be a bonus of $40,000. The agreement calls for all bonuses to be “gross-up” to account for “taxes, withholding and contributions required state or federal law.”
The employment agreement also recognizes “that Employee must devote a great deal of time,” outside of normal hours, and allows the mayor, at his/her discretion, to award non-statutory compensatory leave.
The other finalists for the position were Nicholas Edwards, who is currently assistant city administrator for Lee’s Summit, Mo., and Brian Wilson, the administrator of Belleville, Wisc. Both Edwards and Wilson have graduate degrees in public administration and are both credentialed members of the International City Managers Association.
Pruetting’s contract, if approved by the council, will become effective April 27 and will run for four years.
The mayor’s recommendation will be considered by the council during its April 15 meeting.
Cheryl Harrison-Lee, former administrator who resigned last September, had an employment contract for $161,000. She received a $350,000 payout from the city council.