For the first time, Douglas County's top executive is under contract to the Douglas County Commission.
Commissioners on Monday approved the contract with County Administrator Craig Weinaug, who has had the job since 1992.
"I appreciate the support that it represents to the county administrator position," he said.
The approved contract allows the commission to terminate Weinaug with six months' notice or immediately with six months' severance pay.
As initially proposed, the contract would have been renewable at two-year intervals after Nov. 1, 2001. But commissioners decided to make the contract binding until Weinaug leaves or is fired.
Weinaug said the new contract has terms nearly identical to City Manager Mike Wildgen's work agreement with the city of Lawrence.
Commissioner Charles Jones, who first questioned the timing of the administrator's contract before the general election last month, said Monday that he thought the contract was fair to both the commission and the county administrator.
Commissioners also approved a 2.5 percent merit raise for Weinaug, boosting his pay to about $96,350 annually. Commissioners retained the option to exclude the administrator from any across-the-board raises for county employees, such as cost-of-living adjustments.
Commissioners will consider approving a recommended 2.5 percent COLA on Dec. 11.
The need for a contract surfaced in June when Weinaug was one of three finalists for the city manager position in Norman, Okla. Weinaug said the contract offers more job security and is considered a "norm" in the industry.
Douglas County government has operated with an administrator since 1986.