Taxpayers on the hook

Published 2:00 am Sunday, March 9, 2014

To the editor:

In response to the March 4, 2014 TDB article “Polk settles with county manager for $178k,” I find myself disillusioned, disappointed and saddened by the actions of the current board of commissioners’ majority.

I say that as a fiscally conservative Republican who believes we need smaller, more efficient and more open government in these challenging economic times.

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I have an innate disdain for ‘good ole boy’ backdoor cronyism no matter which side of the aisle it originates, and when it also involves a waste of tax dollars it is even more appalling to me.

I would like to highlight my perception and what I feel is the perception of a good number of my fellow citizens concerning the recent actions of the majority concerning county management.

A word of advice to the majority, a perception whether real or not, is real to the person or persons who have the perception. (Management 101)

If you have not already guessed it, my perception of the majority’s recent actions is “we need our guy” to be at least some sort of county manager no matter what the cost to the taxpayers. Why would I have this perception you ask.

Let’s review actions the board has taken surrounding the county manager position.

1. Our county manager was called up for active duty; the majority appoints an interim manager, who just happens to be the only member of the party who did not win a seat on the commission in the last election cycle.

2. Time draws near for our county manager to return from active duty, which means our interim manager will have to resume his previous position.

3. Interim manager proposes a new assistant county manager position and helps define the job requirements for the proposed position. That’s convenient.

4. Commissioners assess the salary plus benefits package for the proposed assistant county manager in excess $96,000. The county manager salary plus benefits was $101,433.

Was the proposed salary for an “assistant” at nearly the salary and benefits of the county manager a wise choice for tax dollars? The majority thought so.

5. Then came the public outcry over the questionable need for the new position plus the seemingly excessive cost to the taxpayer. This could prove to be political suicide.

6. What are we going to do now? Our county manager had already expressed his intent on returning from active duty and resuming his role as county manager on 3/10/14. We are running out of time.

7. Let’s have a closed meeting session and discuss our options, otherwise our interim will have to return to his previous position.

8. Finally, let’s offer our current county manager a severance package of $178,590 and open the door for our interim manager to assume the County Manager position.

So now, we taxpayers are on the hook for $178,590 just so the majority can have what they perceive to be better control of the County Manager position.

It is my sincere hope that the majority doesn’t seek to move the interim manager into the county manager position without first advertising the job opening prominently at least statewide to ensure that we attract the best and most qualified candidates for the position.

– Rick Edwards, 

Mill Spring