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  • Last modified 163 days ago (Dec. 12, 2018)

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Commissioners seek administrator

Staff writer

Despite voters giving thumbs-down to a 2017 ballot question on hiring a county administrator, commissioners decided in a split vote Monday to create the position anyway.

The non-binding 2017 advisory vote whether to hire an administrator was 1,192 opposed and 962 in favor.

Before commissioner Randy Dallke arrived at Monday’s meeting, chairman Dianne Novak said she believes the county needs an administrator. Commissioner Kent Becker agreed, then Novak made a motion to approve a resolution — not written yet — to hire an administrator. Becker seconded Novak’s motion.

Dallke entered the commission room as the motion was made and seconded and asked if he gets to talk about it. He reminded Novak and Becker that the public had voted against hiring an administrator.

“It’s very sad that we’re going against the way of the public,” Dallke said.

Monday’s vote was 2 to 1, with Novak and Becker in favor and Dallke opposed.

Commissioners in 2017 budgeted nearly $100,000 in the general fund to pay a county administrator if the public approved hiring one. That money was again left in the budget in 2018.

Money to add two additional commissioners, however, was not budgeted during 2018. Voters in November approved creation of a five-member commission.

County clerk Tina Spencer earlier estimated the cost of adding two commissioners could be over $50,000, considering salary, benefits, training, and smaller items such as new letterheads. Commissioners are paid $18,000 annually plus benefits.

After the meeting, each commissioner had something to say.

“Many people ask how much an administrator will cost,” Novak said. “The real question should be how much will an administrator save. With a county administrator, the county will save more than it will cost.”

Becker pointed to other factors.

“I feel like we need an administrator to be the go-between between our departments and the commission,” Becker said. “Trying to manage those departments without micromanaging is difficult. Plus, when we need to research something, we can use our administrator. The administrator can create some economies of scale. That’s how he will pay for his salary — creating savings and efficiencies.”

Dallke disagreed.

“I think the general public needs to stand up and tell us they don’t need both an administrator and a five-member commission,” Dallke said.

He said he heard complaints just last week about the cost of adding two commissioners.

“They were upset because it’s going to cost more money,” Dallke said. “Now they are going to have two things that are going to cost more money — five commissioners and an administrator.”

Dallke said he notices administrators typically hire a finance person and a personnel director, which would add even more cost.

Last modified Dec. 12, 2018

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