April 2017 Editorial Contest Winner

Considering a New Kind of Manager
Mike McCormick, Tri-County Herald

Wonder what it would be like if there was one full-time administrator for several of the small towns and cities in this area?
Seems like maybe a novel idea, but it appears it sure might be worth some consideration.
Think of some of the benefits, rather than trying to come up with all the possible negatives and trying to shoot holes in an idea that might have a lot of positives.
If several communities were willing to band together and pay the salary and benefits for one full-time administrator, they might find a professionally trained manager that could guide and direct the staffs of each community that would be beneficial to each.
This might sound like a wild idea, but it really does have some merit.
The town of Meeker has been without a town administrator for more than two months, following the resignation of Mike Melton. The Meeker Town Board has tried, without success, to hire a successor to Melton.
The Board held a special meeting on April 6, and among the agenda items was an attempt to hire a new town administrator. Four candidates were interviewed in executive session.
When members came out of the executive session, a motion was made to hire one of those people, but the motion was defeated on a 3-2 vote. To our knowledge, none of these men had any previous experience in municipal administration. None was a professionally trained administrator when it comes to towns and cities.
One of the primary drawbacks for small communities like Meeker to attract candidates for the job with previous experience is they struggle with being able to pay the kind of salary and benefits a professionally trained manager would require. And, common sense would dictate that small communities, standing alone, do not really need a full-time administrator.
That’s why it makes sense for towns and cities like Meeker, Sparks, Dale, and maybe others in the area to combine their resources which might attract a top-notch candidate for the position. Each of the entities could chip in a portion, based on some formula to be worked out, to pay for the salary and benefits.
Meeker, due to its size and location, is not going to attract the kind of person with the expertise needed who is willing to locate in the community for very long if at all. Just look at the number of town administrators this community alone has had over the past several years.
Dale recently formed a town government after it was discovered the community had been incorporated since 1980. Citizens took the initiative, followed proper procedure, held a town meeting, elected officials and appointed a mayor.
That community has no real source of revenue, so it surely couldn’t afford to hire a town administrator. But it might be able to find the funds to share in the costs of having one who spent some time in the town providing direction.
Dale’s a good example of where citizens took that initiative to make something happen, even if it is on a smaller scale.
This idea won’t evolve into anything overnight.
But it’s sure worth a look to determine if there is some feasibility to making it happen in the future. It will bring professionalism to the communities which might join in this effort.
Importantly, it might provide cost savings because of combining resources and sharing the expertise of a trained professional.
It’s sure worth considering.

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