Robert Reece has left the county building.

Following a 35-minute executive session Monday, the Pottawatomie County Commission voted unanimously to accept the retirement letter of Reece, who has been county administrator for the past 20-plus years.

Reece was not in attendance at Monday’s weekly commission meeting and, following the executive session, commissioners offered no explanation for his sudden departure.

According to his letter to commissioners, submitted Monday morning, Reece was “out of the office” beginning Monday and on paid administrative leave for six months, pursuant to his contract.

“In accordance with our agreement I will be on administrative leave through Wednesday, January 8, 2020, with final payout of leave time on the following pay date,” Reece said in his letter. “During that time, I will be available (by phone) to answer any operational questions you or staff may have.”

Reece said he has been contemplating retirement for quite some time.

“Following the development and preparation of the 2020 county budget, I have decided to step down as county administrator and retire from Pottawatomie County,” Reece said in his letter. “This has not been an easy decision and one that I have contemplated for several months,”

Reece was hired as Pott County administrator May 1, 1999, replacing Leon Hobson. Prior to that, he served two years as the county’s director of finance.

“I want to take this time to thank you for the opportunity to serve as the county administrator over the past 20-plus years,” Reece said in his letter. “It has been both an honor and a pleasure serving the Pottawatomie County Community.”

Commissioners indicated they plan soon to initiate a search for Reece’s replacement.

In other business Monday:

• Sheriff Greg Riat presented his proposed budget for 2020, seeking a $21,600 (less than 1%) increase over the current budget.

The proposed increase, according to Riat, is for new software and server, as well as additional training for deputies.

Riat said the county jail currently houses an average of 27 inmates, including inmates from Douglas County which generates about $25,000 annually.

“I want to thank you and your entire crew for the hard work you do. We appreciate it,” said Commissioner Dee McKee by telephone.

“I have a pretty good crew,” Riat replied. “Thank you for those kind comments.”

• The commission approved, pending adoption of a formal resolution, a request by Mike Weisbender and Dwayne Miller, his father-in-law, to share a sanitary lagoon by two households.

Weisbender said he is preparing to build a home on 4 acres near his in-laws on Luning Road and requested the use of their current lagoon system.

Sanitarian Scott Schwinn said the lagoon is adequate to support the two households, but he denied their original request since it violated the county sanitary code.

There is precedent for allowing joint use of a lagoon system, Schwinn told commissioners during the appeal.

• Schwinn reported 6,565 tons of solid waste have been shipped from the county landfill during the first six months of 2019 — an increase of 1,862 tons over the same period last year.

The dramatic increase in tonnage has resulted in an increase of $88,500 in revenue for the landfill through June of this year, according to Schwinn.

• Betty Abitz, register of deeds, said 94 mortgages with an indebtedness of more than $15 million were filed with her office during the month of June.

• Gregg Webster, zoning administrator, reported 18 building permits were issued in June, representing more than $4 million in valuation.