Bourbon County Commissioner Answers Questions on Raises

Lynne Oharah, District One Bourbon County Commissioner. Submitted photo

Bourbon County Commissioners are trying to close the gap in wages for its’ elected officials, according to chairman Lynne Oharah.

Recently the commission raised four elected officials earnings with a combined total of $46,000.

At the Dec. 17, 2019 county commission meeting Ohara made a motion to approve a salary resolution for elected officials effective Dec. 15, 2019, according to commission minutes. This raised the clerk and treasurer’s salary to $47,248 annually, the register of deeds to 44,821 and the sheriff’s salary to $60,000. Commissioner Jeff Fisher seconded and all commissioners approved.

Ohara then made a motion approving a wage resolution for Bourbon County employees changing the following: the salary for the correctional center captain, the emergency preparedness director and the deputy county appraiser were raised to $35,568 annually to comply with the U.S. Dept. Of Labor standards for salaried employees. A Maintenance 5 position was added at a rate of $17.47 per hour.  Commissioner Nick Ruhl seconded and all were in favor of those changes.  The economic development director’s salary was changed to $70,000 a year on the same resolution.

Jeff Fischer, District 2 Bourbon County Commissioner.

Ohara made a motion to approve changing her salary to $70,000. He said that if Bourbon County gets an administrative fee from Phase 2 of the Healthy Bourbon County Grant then part of the $70,000 salary would be subsidized from the grant, Fisher seconded this motion, Ruhl voted against this motion,  and the motion passed.

Nick Ruhl, District 3 Bourbon County Commissioner.

The following is an interview with Bourbon County Commissioner Lynn Oharah.

He started with a  history of the raises.

“In 2015, Sheriff Martin contracted an agency to do a wage study to compare Bourbon County wages with other comparable counties because he thought there was a large wage disparity between Bourbon County employees and other like counties,” Commissioner  Oharah said. “The county commissioners also accessed Kansas county wage information from the website. The results indicated that Bourbon County wages were significantly behind our peers. The commissioners resolved to address these wage disparities and devised a plan to increase FTE (Full Time equivalent) positions first and address the next positions that had the most wage disparity, which happened to be the elected officials. Along with this effort we wanted to incentivize employees to continue working for the county and we did this by approving a $100 per year of service longevity pay increase.”

Where did the money come from to give the raises?
“We gave four elected officials raises when combined totaled $46,000.00. This money came from most of the departments managing their budgets and workforce which created a carryover from the 2015 and forward budget years. These wage increases did not increase the mill levy and this carryover gave us the resources to create a competitive wage with our peers although Bourbon County wages are still on the low side.”
What is the justification for the doubling of the earnings of the Bourbon County Economic Development Director?


“This position was initially created to see how the position could help the county,” Oharah said.  “It was created with a minimum of 20 hours of work per week at $35,000 annual salary and we would look at the performance and scope to see if we needed to increase the hours and wages.”

“Our economic developer has been a great asset and for the first six months spent a lot of time helping get the Bourbon County Ambulance Service up and running along with the other duties.”

“Since then all Bourbon County businesses and government entities have been contacted and surveyed to address their needs and identify what’s important to them.  Also, new businesses have been guided through the process of starting a business, grants have been written, the County NRP program has been implemented and coordinated under economic development.  Meetings and plans regarding healthcare are ongoing with economic development highly involved. This is just naming a few projects that are ongoing and the time spent well exceeds what was required.”

“Based on the need, the commission voted to increase the economic development salary and scope. The salary was based on what was being paid to other economic development directors in our surrounding market and the Bourbon County Economic Development budget is still lower than most of our competitive counties.”


“Bourbon County needs to grow and prosper and we cannot get there by doing the same thing that we have been doing for the last 100 years,” Oharah said.
The commission meets on Tuesdays at 9 a.m. at the courthouse.
To contact Ohara: 620-223-3800, ext 110; Fisher at ext. 112 and Ruhl at ext. 111.

19 thoughts on “Bourbon County Commissioner Answers Questions on Raises”

  1. Congratulations on giving yourself raises. I think I’ll give myself a raise also. Of course in order to increase MY income, I’d have to increase the amount and/or quality of product or services I provide. Has the Commission done that? Is the county providing better services or a better place to live than it did a year ago? 5 years ago? 25 years ago???
    The raise I can give myself is to cut my spending, and the only way to do that is to do business in a more tax friendly county, or state.
    Its great that Bourbon County gives tax breaks to businesses, and provides an airport for Wardcraft and family, but what about the “little guy”. And I don’t mean our permanent welfare class, I mean the less than middle class in town. The ones that work their backsides off for $10-12hr and pay 10% sales tax on everything they need to survive. What’s the county doing for them, that warrants a pay increase?

    1. I agree the pay scale here sucks, the tax rate is unfair. I do most of my shopping elsewhere where the tax rate

  2. What a shame that a salary of $35,000 is doubled for 20 hours work a week.
    What on earth are you guys thinking?
    Most people would love to earn $35 for 40 hour week.
    Ft Scott is not wealthy-stop the wasteful spending!
    Fix the roads !
    I dont think we need the economic director-has she brought in businesses?

  3. I think the pay raise for Economic Developer is outrageous…I think they should work on a bonus program. If they bring jobs here…They get a bonus…If not …minimal salary…

    1. @ getting angry…….Great Idea, but they will just claim every “ribbon cutting” as a new business. Most are simple expansions or moves or “re-openings” of existing businesses.
      Even if a local resident opens a new business that’s not something I’d give credit to any economic development manager.
      Get 3M or Amazon to bring in a couple thousand jobs….then I’ll be impressed. Maybe then all the town “endentured servants” to Wardcraft can show how they really feel

  4. I wonder what the other faithful employees of Bourbon County think about the $70,000 job?
    Their job is important and they work their 40 hours but will never see their pay double.
    The pay was doubled for a fairly newly created job.
    The two commissioners that voted for the raise should be voted out.
    Jody’s salary should be no more than $35,000 for 40 hours a week.
    Something fishy here!

  5. I would like to see the economic developer and the county commissioners disclose to the taxpayers any financial interests they have in the wind energy business coming to Bourbon county.

    1. You should be able to to call and find out who’s name is on the property. It’s considered public records.

    2. I’d be up for this, and I would also like to know if any of the more prominent opponents of the windmills have any financial ties to the coal industry or other industries that might be negatively impacted by alternate energy sources.

      1. The economic developer and the county commissioners could have a conflict of interest as elected officials / employees of the county. An unelected citizen is a different case.

  6. I think the time has come to take advantage of one of the tools available to citizens in our country: the recall. I propose that we organize and start a petition to hold a special recall election to remove the commissioners who voted for these unreasonable pay raises. If you are interested, please contact me.

      1. I am appalled by the enormous salaries posted for these jobs! Especially Economic Development! We DO NOT NEED BOTH A BOURBON COUNTY AND CITY ECONOMIC DEVELOPER!!!
        There combined salaries over $150000 a year!!! Why in the world do we need 2? 1 person in this position doesn’t bring any jobs here as it is, now we pay for 2? Their positions should be half of what they are and add an incentive bonus for bringing jobs in. There is so much waste in the city and county! For the first time I really resent my taxes paying for these cushy unnecessary jobs when I can barely make ends meet on social security of $24000 a year. I will take either of these positions for $35000 a year!!!!

    1. Alternately, two of the three Commission posts are up for election this November (Primary in August), which would cost no additional taxpayer money (like recall election would).

  7. To follow up on my previous comment, I was in contact with a person at the state government and was told that there were already some people in town who had requested the requisite paper work to start recall effort. I would appreciate it if that party or those parties would contact me so we can coordinate the efforts.

    1. So what needs to be done to get the ball rolling? What was the department called that you called maybe if enough people call might draw more attention. I looked up wages for salary on sheriffs in Kansas he was at the average.

  8. The time has come that “we the people” consider and vote to form a unified governing body. With the duplication of efforts at the leadership level unnecessary duplications will be created; by no fault of the person’s holding those positions. It is OUR fault; the logic of a recall in an election year has as little merit as an impeachment in an election year. Elememinate the factions of divisiveness, work together, and we will get more done for less.

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