Purchasing agent and former chief deputy county clerk Kathy Hardeman is retiring after nearly 40 years of service to Franklin County, but she is not severing ties completely.

Hardeman first joined the county clerk’s office working in voter registration and elections in 1978.

“I have met and worked with so many wonderful people in the last 40 years,” Hardeman said. “We’ve had ups and downs, most of them up. I’ll never forget any of them.”

Two years ago, the Franklin County Commission created the new purchasing department to handle bidding, contracts and other purchasing needs for all of the county operations.

This was done as a joint effort to consolidate resources and save time and money for the county by having all purchasing under the same rules and administration.

Since that time, Hardeman and one other employee, Ann Struttmann, have run the purchasing department and been responsible for hundreds of thousands of dollars of purchases in the past two years.

Not wanting to lose the wealth of knowledge Hardeman has for not only purchasing but many other facts of county operations, on Tuesday the county commission hired Hardeman as an independent contractor to help in the transition for new staff.  

According to the commission order, Hardeman possesses certain unique and particular talents and abilities with regard to Franklin County’s business and can assist the county by employing her knowledge, technical expertise, and manpower.

The contract will begin April 1 and terminate on June 30 of this year.

The county will pay Hardeman at the rate of $20 per hour, which will be paid monthly.

Genesis

In December 2016, after about a year of research, the Franklin County Commission established the purchasing department to streamline bidding, monitor purchases and look for options to save money.

Hardeman, who originally approached the commission with the idea, and did much of the research for its formation, was tapped to head the department and build it from the ground up..

The purchasing department is responsible for letting all bids, by working closely with all departments in hopes to promote competition in the bidding process in order to obtain the lowest possible cost for the county.

The department also assists in searching for cooperative agreements of other government agencies the county may utilize to achieve the best possible savings to the taxpayer.

Also in 2016, in addition to creating the purchasing department and agent, the commission also approved amending the existing county purchasing policies to include Hardeman’s oversight.

The department assists all county departments in the proper procedures of the purchase order process, investigate to determine whether purchases are necessary and actually required for official county business.

Right Person, Right Time

The 2019 operating budget for the purchasing department is $140,975. 

From the research done in other counties, it was expected the new position would pay for itself within its first year in savings.

While conducting research for the purchasing department formation Hardeman looked at dozens of counties with similar departments all over Missouri and even one in Kansas.

All aspects of the purchasing department, its agents and policies took effect on Jan. 1, 2017.

Leading up to the creation of the department, the commission amended its purchasing policy several times. Also in 2016, a county highway department employee was fired and later convicted of making personal purchases on county credit cards.