By ROBERT PIERCE
• Leader & Times
Seward County is now advertising for the position of county administrator following the recent resignation of current administrator Mary Bloomer.
Monday, county commissioners voted 4-1, with C.J. Wettstein against, to approve a job description, salary range and advertising for the position.
Wettstein, an opponent of the administrator post, gave a simple reason for his vote against the proposal.
“I’m just not going to vote to spend another million dollars on this position,” he said.
Monday’s vote came following a county work session last week to discuss the administrator position, and the remainder of the commission, including Doug LaFreniere, said having a management position in the county is a good thing.
“You look at any entity. The hospital has an administrator,” he said. “The police department has a chief. You’re just not allowed to run amuck. To go without an administrator at this level would really be irresponsible with the millions of dollars that’s being spent and not having any one person to oversee it and report it to us.”
LaFreniere said not having an administrator would mean extra work for commissioners, many of whom have other jobs in the community.
“It would depend on us to go to department heads,” he said. “We’re here to look out for the taxpayers. I’m not here to make sure there’s paper towels in the bathroom.”
Commission chair Jim Rice, who came on the board two years ago, said at that time, he was unsure of whether an administrator was necessary for a county, but since that time, he has been convinced that it is.
“I just can’t imagine trying to operate a business this size without the ability to go and talk to somebody that’s on top of everything all the time,” he said. “I think it would be a disaster to start with if we were try to go back to the old days. I certainly support this position, and I think it’d be a total disaster if we didn’t do it.”
Commissioner Ada Linenbroker said she visited with department heads recently and asked them a simple question – “Does the county operate better with or without an administrator?” She said most seem to be leaning toward the answer of “yes.”
“They said, ‘I think it’s more important that we have one because I don’t want to have to chase down three commissioners to get permission because I have an emergency,’” she said. “Now, I can call and talk to the administrator, and they can make a decision.”