Whatcom Public Works director resigns, takes Kansas job

The director of Whatcom County government’s largest department is resigning.

Frank Abart, for eight years director of county Public Works, has accepted the same position with the city of Emporia, Kan. In Whatcom County, the 56-year-old Abart was in charge of road maintenance, flood control, noxious-weed control, solid waste, stormwater management and the Lummi Island ferry. The department had 155 employees in 2014.

Abart’s resignation is effective Feb. 13.

“We wish Frank well as he takes on new duties as the public works director for the city of Emporia, Kan.,” county Executive Jack Louws said in a prepared statement.

Emporia, population 25,000, has estimated expenses of $20 million in its entire general fund budget for 2015. Whatcom’s Public Works Department has a projected budget of $62 million this year.

Abart’s annual salary with Whatcom County was $145,100. His salary in Kansas was not immediately available.

Louws said the search for Abart’s replacement will be conducted primarily in the western states but would not exclude applicants from other regions.

“We’ll be engaging Public Works staff and select members of the community to help me make the most appropriate decision,” Louws said on Friday, Jan. 16.

Assistant Public Works Director Joe Rutan will serve as interim public works director.