Community input taken on concept of county administrator
About 20 people gathered at the Cook County Community Center on May 22, 2013 to talk about what a county administrator could contribute to Cook County government.
Community member Jim Boyd shared his thoughts on the matter, saying that while additional government doesn’t always save money, it improves both services and efficiencies. “You get more bang for your buck,” he said.
You don’t have a school without a superintendent or a company without a CEO, Boyd said. “Your staff deserves one boss and right now they have five,” he said to the four county commissioners at the meeting (Bruce Martinson, Garry Gamble, Heidi Doo-Kirk, and Sue Hakes).
Another community member, Myron Bursheim said he thought the county has done a great job with its resources, but he added that he thinks the county needs an advocate inside the courthouse. Consultants aren’t necessarily looking out for the best interests of the county, he said.
Commissioner Bruce Martinson said, “We need the right person, that’s for sure.”
He said one thing he was looking for was consistency in departmental reviews. When commissioners each conducted employee reviews on different department heads several years ago, their reviews seemed really inconsistent, he said.
Community member Mike Carlson wondered how insulated a county administrator would be from public criticism. Commissioner Gamble said people skills would be important for the person in this job. “The primary role of an administrator, as I see it, is making people better,” he said. “A person like that should be above the fray…because you’re not going to please everybody.”
At the regular county board meeting on May 28, Commissioners Gamble and Martinson presented a job description they had drafted as a starting point for review and comment by the rest of the board, as well as retiring Personnel Director/Board Secretary Janet Simonen, County Attorney Tim Scannell, department heads, Springsted, and the public.
The possible pay range for the position was discussed with figures ranging from $78,600 - $110,112.
The board finally voted to hire Springsted Incorporated of St. Paul to help them with the process of hiring a county administrator. Springsted will charge up to $14,000 plus expenses of up to $2,500. The motion to hire Springsted passed by a vote of 4-1. Voting no was Commissioner Gamble, who said he was opposed to hiring Springsted without having a preliminary discussion with the firm and considering other firms as well.