Despite lengthy discussion of whether the public had had enough opportunity to weigh in on the subject, county commissioners cast a split vote Monday to create a county administrator position.
As discussion began, commissioner Kent Becker said he thought the commission should wait a week.
Commissioner Randy Dallke said he wondered how many people were aware a vote was planned.
Becker noted that people who had talked to him about whether to create the position were not at the meeting.
The only member of the public present was Hillsboro mayor Lou Thurston, long a vocal supporter of hiring an administrator.
Commissioner David Crofoot said five people had phoned him — four in favor, and one opposed.
Even chairman David Mueller said he thought commissioners should give people another opportunity to talk about the idea.
On the other hand, Mueller said, commissioners had hoped to take action two weeks ago.
A draft resolution to hire an administrator was presented at that meeting, but commissioners wanted changes to the document.
Commissioners did not meet last week because Mueller was on a trip to Tampa, Florida along with other Tampa residents.
When county residents voted against hiring an administrator in 2017, they had the option of hiring an administrator or expanding the commission from three members to five, Dallke said.
“That’s the way it was put out to the public was, it was a five-member commission or it was an administrator,” Dallke said.
Becker moved to table discussion and vote on an administrator until next week.
“I’m stating I’m for it, I just want to be more transparent,” he said.
Mueller moved to approve the resolution creating an administrator position.
County counsel Brad Jantz suggested changing it to require a supermajority — a minimum of four commissioners instead of three — to make job applicants feel the position more secure.
Commissioners then voted 4-1 with Dallke opposed, to create the position with Jantz’s changes made to the contract.
The resolution does not specify a salary. Compensation is to be set out in an employment contract. The county has for several years budgeted $125,000 for an administrator and office staff.
Under the resolution passed Monday, the administrator would:
- Coordinate and enforce county rules.
- Attend commission meetings and present proposals to address county needs.
- Advise commissioners on matters within his or her authority.
- Manage county property.
- Present an operating budget, capital improvement program, and a long-range strategic plan for review.
- Enforce personnel policies and approve change of status for employees.
- Prepare meeting agendas, coordinate county departments, execute contracts approved by commissioners, write grant applications, and perform other duties delegated by commissioners.
- Not have supervisory authority over elected officials.
Commissioners don’t yet have a timeline for hiring an administrator. Mueller said the first step would be to decide how to conduct the search.
“The key is finding the right person,” Mueller said. “We absolutely have to get the right candidate. If we don’t get the right candidate in the first round, then we will wait for the right candidate.”
In other business Monday, commissioners:
- Approved a contract with SD Security to provide security guard services for $40 an hour with a minimum of 90 hours a month.
- Approved annual longevity payments of $50 a year for employees.