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Kansas City, Kansas, will pay more than $813,000 to retiring county administrator

Doug Bach, Unified Government administrator, will retire next week after 30 years with Wyandotte County.
Unified Government
Doug Bach, Unified Government administrator, will retire next week after 30 years with Wyandotte County.

The Unified Government of Kansas City, Kansas and Wyandotte County will pay more than $813,000 to Doug Bach, the retiring county administrator who left the county three weeks after the new mayor was sworn in.

The Unified Government of Kansas City, Kansas and Wyandotte County will pay over $813,000 to its outgoing administrator, who left his role three weeks after new Mayor Tyrone Garner was sworn in.

The Unified Government announced Douglas Bach would be retiring from his role in late December, but according to a separation agreement obtained by KCUR, he indicated his intent to retire on Dec. 15, two days after Garner was sworn in on Dec. 13.

Bach has been the Unified Government’s administrator since 2014 and has spent his entire professional career working at City Hall. As administrator, Bach is the top manager for the operations of the Unified Government. He reports to the mayor and is responsible for carrying out policies approved by the Unified Government Commission.

The Unified Government declined to comment on the separation agreement or Bach’s departure. Bach did not return a request for comment.

When the Unified Government announced Bach’s departure, they did not name an interim administrator. The UG Commission later approved Cheryl Harrison-Lee as its first interim county administrator on Jan. 6. She will serve until April 1, 2023 and is the first woman and Black person to serve in the role. Harrison-Lee is the CEO of HLDC, a management consulting firm. She also serves on the Kansas Board of Regents and has previously worked for Kansas City, Missouri as a chief technical advisor on the Central City Sales Tax.

During the pandemic, Kansas Governor Laura Kelly selected her as the executive director for the Office of Recovery, where she assisted the state in allocating the use of the $1.034 billion CARES federal funding.

In the separation agreement, the Unified Government agreed to pay Bach $336,445, which amounts to his salary through March 2024. Bach will also get a $50,000 severance payment and $427,364 as a payout of his accrued leave, and his family’s health, vision and dental insurance will be covered by the Unified Government for an additional year.

The Unified Government will also include the $427,364 accrued leave payout in the calculations for Bach’s retirement benefits.

The agreement also detailed the statement the Unified Government would release to media, the internal email Bach would send to staff, as well as an agreement that both parties do not offer additional comments or interviews to media.

“Bach and the Unified Government agree that, unless required by the Kansas Open Records Act, K.S.A. 45-201 et seq., no statement will be given to any member of the media by the Unified Government concerning Bach’s resignation and retirement or this Agreement without the mutual agreement of the parties on the wording of such a statement,” the agreement said.

Questions about Bach’s future with the Unified Government have swirled ever since Garner’s first public meeting as mayor. David Alvey, Garner’s predecessor as mayor, was largely supportive of Bach. But Garner was more circumspect about his views on Bach. Garner generally campaigned as a mayor who would seek a change from the Unified Government’s status quo.

Garner narrowly defeated Alvey, a one-term mayor, in November’s election.

Additional reporting provided by Steve Vockrodt of the Midwest Newsroom, an investigative journalism collaboration including KCUR, St. Louis Public RadioIowa Public RadioNebraska Public Media and NPR.

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