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Resignation agreement hampers work, say conservation leaders

Pierce County Land Conservation Committee members and the county's soil conservationist complained Friday they need help soon to run the land conservation department.

But finance and personnel committee members said they want further discussion before agreeing to hire a new department director.

David Sander, who had been the director since November 2002, resigned March 24 during a finance and personnel committee meeting. A grievance filed by Sander was apparently discussed during that meeting. Details of that grievance and of Sander's resignation agreement haven't been made public yet.

"I'm going to keep the office going for a month or two, but I'm not going to do two jobs," said Soil Conservationist Jon Krauss. He said spring is a busy time for him and he can't delegate his work to others in the department.

"I don't appreciate all of a sudden getting saddled with all this extra work," he added.

Land Conservation Committee Vice Chairman Don Nellessen said his committee had no say in how the resignation process went, but still has to operate the department.

He said the committee wants to immediately advertise for a new director and to have Krauss act as interim director.

Some issues need to be resolved and the finance and personnel committee is not ready to post the job opening, replied Supervisor Kirstin Schilling, a member of that committee. She said she didn't want to rule out the possibility of reorganization.

There are "systems problems" and issues of why the director left that need to be evaluated before decisions are made, said Supervisor Rich Purdy, who also serves on finance and personnel.

"We have to understand what's going on and why we have lost three directors," said Purdy.

He suggested the committee meet before current members leave later this month and set down for the record what happened.

Krauss said the department must submit its state grant application soon.

He wondered about receiving salary reimbursements when there is no director on the job. The grant customarily pays the full salary for the director, which is the highest paid position in the department, and lesser percentages of technicians' salaries.

Finance and personnel committee members voted to appoint Krauss interim director and to see that he has access to files he needs to meet the grant deadline.

The committee also agreed to meet at 5:30 p.m. this Wednesday to continue discussions.