Johnson County taxpayers will foot bill for $110,000 in fees associated with board’s vote to terminate Hannes Zacharias’s contract

Jay Senter - December 13, 2017 7:44 am
County Manager Hannes Zacharias received a standing ovation ahead of the Dec. 7 Board of County Commissioners meeting.
County Manager Hannes Zacharias received a standing ovation ahead of the Dec. 7 Board of County Commissioners meeting.

The Board of County Commissioners’ vote Nov. 30 to terminate County Manager Hannes Zacharias’s contract will cost Johnson County taxpayers at least $110,000 in fees.

Under the terms of Zacharias’s contract, he is eligible for separation payment equal to six months’ salary. Zacharias is paid $219,665 per year. He also may be eligible for payout for unused vacation days and 20 percent of sick day accruals.

Should Zacharias, who is 63, have retired or resigned, he would not have been eligible for severance pay. The contract also stipulates that should the county manager have been fired for cause, he would not have been eligible for a severance package.

Following commissioners Mike Brown, Michael Ashcraft, Steve Klika and Jason Osterhaus’s rejection of an attempt to reverse the ouster vote last week, the board named current Deputy County Manager Penny Postoak Ferguson to take over as interim county manager Jan. 1.

Ferguson is currently a salaried employee paid $193,758.65 per year. Her salary will likely be adjusted to account for her increased responsibilities, but she will not operate under a contract in the interim role.

The board of county commissioners has not publicly discussed what process it will use to identify and vet potential candidates for a new full-term county manager. Should the board conduct an executive search, the county could be looking at additional costs in the tens of thousands of dollars. The Shawnee Mission School District is spending $25,000 with the search firm Ray and Associates to identify candidates for its next superintendent.

The board meets Thursday at 9:30 a.m. There is no mention of the search for a new full-term county manager on the public meeting agenda, though there is an executive session planned.

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