Saturday, February 11, 2006

Bonaparte's Topeka Contract Unveiled

The Topeka City Council will vote Tuesday on a contract that would make former city administrator Norton N. Bonaparte Jr. the first permanent city manager of the Kansas state capital.

A contract posted on the Topeka council’s web site lists the proposed salary as $137,500.

Bonaparte, now the acting Administration and Finance director in Plainfield, was chosen as finalist for the Topeka position in January. He and his wife, Santa, visited Topeka last month to meet officials and take a tour of the city. Details of contract talks were secret until the agenda for the Feb. 14 council meeting was posted.

Other details include a $22,000 moving allowance and a provision for nine months’ severance pay in case of job termination without cause. Bonaparte would receive full health benefits and a $550 monthly vehicle allowance.

Topeka would pay for professional dues and subscriptions, job-related travel and education and business expenses, as well as a computer and cell phone.

As city manager, Bonaparte would serve “at the will” of the council and could be fired at any time upon 30 days’ notice.

If the contract is approved, Bonaparte would start work in Topeka on March 13.

Voters approved the new city manager form of government in November 2004, to replace a strong mayor-council plan. Public Works Director Neil Dobler has been acting city manager while the council conducted a search for a permanent manager. Thirty candidates applied and the choice was winnowed down to five finalists, then two, before Bonaparte was chosen.

As city manager, Bonaparte would have the power to hire and fire employees and would be responsible for the budget and city finances. Topeka had a budget last year of $154 million and has about 1,300 municipal employees.

--Bernice Paglia

KEYWORDS: administration


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