It has been five months since I introduced a local law calling for the appointment of a county administrator, someone who would shoulder the responsibilities of a chief administrator working in conjunction with the Schoharie County Board of Supervisors on a daily basis concerning the overall administration of county government.
This is something our county has never had and is in desperate need of.
He or she would also become the go-to person on a daily basis pertaining to issues that affect not only the workforce but, the general public as well. This individual would appoint such office staff authorized by the board; take recommendations to the appropriate committee or to the chairman of the board, including recommendations to hire department head positions; and work in conjunction with and coordinate activities of county department heads and the administration of all units of county government in order to most efficiently implement the directions of the Board of Supervisors.
He or she would have general supervision of all county departments and agencies, including supervision of purchasing and auditing functions; work with each department on the development of an annual plan (goals) for the most effective and efficient operation of county government; aid the Board of Supervisors in evaluating proposals presented and make recommendations concerning such proposals; serve as an adviser in developing policies and procedures; initiate and oversee the collective bargaining process with organized employees; serve as the labor relations director to resolve grievances; execute and approve contracts in the name of the county; be authorized to transfer funds within the adopted budget; and have such powers to perform other duties empowered by the Board of Supervisors.
This brief overview is what would be expected of this individual. It would create something that has been missing in county government for a long time — accountability. With a county administrator, someone would be watching the store on a daily basis, which any successful business owner can appreciate.
The current state of our county government continues to leave a lot to be desired. We have been without an IT director for almost a year-and-a-half. The Health Department still does not have a permanent director, nor does the Personnel Department. Major contracts have been jeopardized by incompetence, and we still have some individuals in place that were part of a conspiracy unveiled by the Fitzmaurice report.
It has been the philosophy of the Board of Supervisors for years that they, and only they, run the county, never willing to recognize that perhaps in many instances they were in over their heads on issues.
While it is not my intention to discredit my colleagues with whom I sit at the county because I appreciate and care about them all, I am willing to recognize that we are in need of help. If that is not apparent, then we become part of the problem and not part of the cure. It remains my wish that the county board and the general public take a serious look at the local law that was introduced.
Take a bold step forward in an attempt to remedy the issues that have plagued our county for years. If this concept proves successful, we will have afforded our constituents the type of representation and government they well deserve.
Collectively, we can stop county government from floundering on a daily basis. We have an obligation to provide efficient and meaningful government. Change never comes easy. But if we can recognize change is necessary, it becomes a lot more palatable.
Gene Milone is the town supervisor of Schoharie and a member of the Schoharie County Board of Supervisors. The Gazette encourages readers to submit material on local issues for the Sunday Opinion section.