Schoharie County treasurer not candidate for administrator
My name has been mentioned several times in conjunction with the creation of a possible appointed county administrator position in Schoharie County. These references have been made in various print news articles, in two separate newspaper editorials over the past few weeks, and in several online postings.
Up until now I have remained silent regarding the subject. It seemed premature for me to take a public stance on the issue, since the position does not presently exist in Schoharie County. Given the reluctance of the majority of the Board of Supervisors, both past and present, to accept the fact that running a complex organization with an annual operating budget of $72 million requires full-time, day-to-day professional management in order to function properly, many of us have serious doubts about whether the position will ever be created.
However, since my name keeps getting published almost every time the issue gets raised, I guess it’s appropriate for me to clear the air once and for all. I don’t want the job. Let me say that again. I will not apply for, nor accept, an administrator position that serves at the pleasure of the Board of Supervisors.
Why would I ever surrender the independence and fiscal authority that the voters of this county have entrusted to me for the past 19 years in order to become an appointee of the Board of Supervisors? Serving as a countywide elected official has allowed me to independently manage and safeguard county finances, and to publicly criticize the board when I felt they were making a decision that would adversely impact taxpayer dollars. If I had been serving at their pleasure, rather than at the pleasure of the 32,000 people of this county, the Board of Supervisors would have fired me long before now.
I can understand why my name has been associated with the county administrator position. It is probably because there have been many times over the years where the board has tapped me to take on a difficult project or clean up a challenging situation, outside my role as county treasurer. I always felt that it was my duty to say yes, because if left unattended or uncorrected, the problem would likely cost the taxpayers even more money.
My college degree in public administration, along with my professional training and job experience, qualifies me to hold the position of county administrator. But in this case, regarding that particular position, my answer has to be thanks, but no thanks.
In my mind, there can be no doubt that Schoharie County government needs professional, day-to-day management. But whether that goal can be achieved under someone who has to try to stay in the good graces of the Board of Supervisors in order to keep their job is a whole other story.
Perhaps the only way to truly achieve effective leadership at the county level will be to someday move toward the creation of an elected county executive working side-by-side, and in conjunction with, a county Legislature. Whether the board eventually creates the position of appointed administrator, and if so, who it hires to do that job, is as yet unknown. One thing is certain however, it won’t be me.
I have absolutely no intention of walking away from the commitment that I have made to serve the people of Schoharie County as their independent, straight-talking, county treasurer and chief financial officer, until such time as they decide that I should do so.
The writer is the Schoharie County Treasurer.