During Tuesday night’s Fort Scott City Commission meeting, City Manager Dave Martin introduced Rhonda Dunn as the city’s new manager of codes enforcement beginning March 1.
Shortly after being sworn in January 9, after being reelected as Bourbon County’s Treasurer, Dunn announced that she will begin working with the city of Fort Scott, as the city continues its effort to enforce local codes in order to improve the community’s environment.
“We all drive around in our town and think how it used to be and how it once was,” Dunn said of her decision. “And I figured, you can’t just talk about that, you have to do something about it. I see this as an opportunity for me to help with that.”
Dunn said she will miss being involved in the county, but believes she left a good mark and is leaving the job in good hands with the staff she worked with. Before resigning entirely from the county, Dunn said she will also help train the staff and her replacement.
“It was a really hard decision for me,” Dunn said of her departure from the county. “Because I absolutely love working for the county.”
But Dunn said she is looking forward to improving the community as well as assisting the city in finding ways to utilize surplus property that is currently unused. She added she was ready for a change and the opportunity to hold a position that has room for upward movement, whereas that was unavailable as county treasurer.
“I’m very, very excited, I can’t wait to get to the city,” Dunn said, adding she looks forward to helping the infrastructure of the city move forward by encouraging people to improve their property and the city, not just through penalties but through rewards. “There’s so much going on in Fort Scott and so many good things happening, I feel like there’s a piece here that I can contribute to.”
Martin mentioned at a recent Chamber of Commerce event that the city had been lenient on codes enforcement for more than a decade, leading to areas of town becoming run down or in need of attention due to codes violations. But in recent years, Martin and other staff began to focus on that growing need in the city.
“Our business as the city is not to fine people,” Martin said. “We don’t want to fine people to take care of their property, we want compliance.”
Martin pointed out that some people do not have the means to take care of their homes and properties, and the city wants to connect them with churches or other organizations able to provide assistance. Martin said it is the homeowners that do not care to keep up their property that need stricter enforcement.
Martin said the city believes Dunn is just that person to make sure the codes are properly enforced, saying she “has a vision, can work with HPA [Historic Preservation Association] on buildings, can work with homeowners.”
“She has a heart for Fort Scott and loves the town,” Martin said. “We’re excited and I think she will do a great job.”
Bourbon County leaders and staff said Dunn will be missed. Public works director Jim Harris said he believes Dunn was largely responsible for the excellent management of the road and bridge department’s budget in the past year.
“Road and bridge really appreciates her expertise,” Harris said, saying Dunn met with them monthly and sometimes weekly.
County Commissioner Lynne Oharah expressed appreciation for her help when he needed specific information about finances and the county’s cash flow.
“She’s been a big asset,” Oharah said.
While her job with the city will be her main focus, Dunn will still remain available to assist the county on a part-time basis for the near future. She said she and the city will do all they can to make sure the transition is smooth and that there will be no need for a special election.
Once Dunn does submit her resignation to the governor and the county commissioners, the Bourbon County Republican Party precinct leaders will have 21 days to recommend her replacement, who would then need to be approved by the governor. The new county treasurer would be up for reelection in the next general election in 2018. The annual salary for the treasurer is more than $37,000, while Dunn had received another $10,000 annually for motor vehicle pay. The annual salary for the codes manager ranges from $47,500 to $52,150.