County faces backlash over administrator
County commissioners faced a packed house at Monday’s meeting — many of them there to vent their opinions on a vote to proceed with hiring a county administrator.
Former commissioner Dan Holub was among those who came to speak against last week’s split vote to move forward on seeking a county administrator despite a 2017 advisory vote in which voters gave a thumbs-down to the idea.
“I don’t want to get into an argument,” Holub said.
Holub said the county has no job description for an administrator, and existing employees will have job responsibilities taken away, resulting in pay reductions.
“Also, the cost of a five-member commission was not discussed before election,” Holub said. “I think you’ve lost your credibility. One, you’ve gone against the voters, and the other, you didn’t give out all the information.”
Next to speak was Lincolnville resident Mike Beneke, who reminded commissioners he’d supported a county administrator when he campaigned against Holub.
“I think our county clerk is overwhelmed in her duties,” Beneke said.
Beneke echoed Holub’s sentiment that not enough information was given to the public before an election and reminded them that when people were considering building a jail, town hall meetings were held to discuss the proposal.
“As for an administrator vs. a five-member commission, I would support one or the other,” Beneke said.
Next was Marion resident Darvin Markley, who pointed out that a few months ago, commission chairman Dianne Novak mentioned hiring and administrator and county counsel Brad Jantz advised against it.
“I was looking at last week’s agenda,” Markley said. “For some reason it got shoved under the table.”
Last week Novak broached the subject of an administrator before commissioner Randy Dallke arrived, and after a brief discussion with commissioner Kent Becker, 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. Dallke voted against the motion and Novak and Becker voted in favor.
“After struggling with this a lot, I do have some statistics,” Novak answered Markley.
Novak listed several projects where she believes the county wasted money, but Dallke told Novak her statistics were incorrect.
“I can see these dollars flying out of the county,” Novak said.
“Don’t you agree, both of you, that the way you went about this is wrong?” Markley said.
“No, I don’t,” Novak retorted.
“The voters voted down an administrator, yet they gave you two more commissioners,” Markley said. “Why wouldn’t you give them the common courtesy of respecting them?”
“I’m convinced that if you’d hired a county administrator to begin with, the people would not have given you two more commissioners,” Markley added.
Markley asked for an immediate vote on commissioner pay.
“I think that’s a rather asinine suggestion to vote on it today,” Novak said.
Markley asked commissioners to vote to table an administrator until after the new commissioners are seated.
Novak told him he was out of time.
Hillsboro city administrator Larry Paine said he can see there are things that could be done by an administrator.
“I want to echo what Larry said,” Hillsboro resident Dwight Flaming said, but expressed frustration over how the situation evolved.
Goessel resident Christine Flaming suggested commissioners put an administrator to a vote again.
“Thank you for your comment,” Novak said. “Anyone else?”
Flaming said she believes Novak has “a lot of hidden agendas,” which Novak denied.
“It is my opinion that we as a responsible commission should do justice by the people,” Novak said.
Then Novak asked Becker to “step up to the plate and make the motion.”
Becker, however, backpedaled.
“I am totally in favor of a county administrator even though we had an election,” Becker said, but added that the people who spoke against an administrator seem upset about transparency.
Becker moved to table the matter of an administrator until after March, when it is hoped two additional commissioners will be aboard.
“I’m willing to work with the people who expressed concern,” Becker said.
“I’m about to change my mind on this,” Novak said.
The vote to table an administrator was split, with Becker and Dallke in favor and Novak opposed.
Last modified Dec. 20, 2018