Supervisors slate hearing on administrator


By David Avitabile

Residents will get their chance to give opinions on a county administrator, but supervisors battled over the issue Friday.
The debate began after Bill Federice of Conesville completed a presentation that included a recommendation for the county to hire a full-time administrator.
The public will be able to give their opinions at a hearing starting at 10am on Friday, October 17, in the supervisors' chambers on the third floor of the county building. Supervisors are likely to keep that hearing open for at least a month.
The administrator would work closely with the board chairman, who would remain the chief executive officer, and the county treasurer, who would still be the chief financial officer, according to Mr. Federice.
The position would also be non-political.
"They're there to do a job," Mr. Federice noted.
Under the proposal, the administrator would be named by the county board and serve at the "pleasure of the board."
Carl Barbic of Seward, who served on the investigation committee, said he has always been in favor of an administrator and is desperately needed in the county.
Currently, "when problems arise, we have no solutions here. They (administrators in other counties) had answers. They had all the information necessary."
The committee's visits to five other counties were eye opening, he added.
Amber Bleau of Wright, who was also on the exploratory committee, agreed.
"You need someone full-time, committed to the job...There's no consistency in this county," she said. "We're missing something."
The other counties, she added, are proactive while Schoharie County is always reacting to issues, Ms. Bleau said.
Gene Milone of Schoharie, who introduced the issue in January, added his support.
"Someone has to be at the helm to prevent the county from continuing to flounder," he said.
The addition of an administrator is needed "to move this county in the right direction. The future of this county is in our hands right now."
Sandy Manko of Sharon and Phil Skowfoe of Fulton were unconvinced.
Ms. Manko was concerned about how the county would pay for the position.
The salaries for the position range from $45,000 to $129,000 in the five counties that officials visited, according to Mr. Federice. Any additional staff for the office would be minimal since most of those duties are already being performed by current employees.
"Where's the money coming from?" Mr. Skowfoe asked. "That's a lot of money."
He said that at one time he was in full support of having an administrator. "I don't right now."
The current board works well and each supervisor brings different experience and expertise to the board.
Though the position is supposed to be non-political, Mr. Skowfoe worried that the majority party would control what the administrator would do.
Much more study is needed on the issue, he added.
"You have this on too fast a track."
Ms. Manko added, "It's too much. It's rushed."
Earl VanWormer of Esperance did not mince words on his feelings about the issue.
Mr. VanWormer was named to the committee that studied the issue, but did not attend any meetings.
He said his opinion has not changed on the issue.
A full-time administrator is "not in the best interest of the people the Schoharie County" and a "waste of time and money," he told board members.
Some of the functions of an administrator are already covered by other county employees, he added.
"I bet you the majority of us don't support this action," he concluded. He then left the meeting before the debate began.