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County on right track with administrative coordinator duties

Members of The Star News editorial board include Co-Publisher Carol O’Leary, Publisher Kris O’Leary and Editor Brian Wilson.

Taylor County is on the right track in moving toward a more formalized listing of job duties and responsibilities for the administrative coordinator position.

Taylor County has had an administrative coordinator, at least on paper, since at least 1987. January 1, 1987 was when state law changed to require counties without either an elected county executive or appointed county administrator to have the office.

While state laws spell out the broadreaching authority and responsibilities of the county executive and administrator positions, they are vague when it comes to the duties of administrative coordinators, instead leaving it up to individual county boards to define the position.

As with most things, this lack of firm parameters as to the duties and responsibilities worked, until it didn’t. It worked in Taylor County, largely due to the presence of department heads who measured their tenure in the county by decades and who knew the proverbial lay of the land.

Things began to get more challenging as those positions began to change with a new generation of leaders. In the past decade there has been a near complete turnover among management level staff members in the county. In some cases there has been multiple people coming and going.

Taylor County is not immune to workplace trends that have more jobhopping and less long-term stability. In this new environment, the old ways of relying on custom and common sense falls short. The younger generation of employees and managers, many who have come from private sector positions, desire more formalized and written structures.

The administrative coordinator is the person who ideally makes sure all the staff in the county is pointed in the same direction. Given the significant independence of each department head and them being answerable to a county board committee, this is a task that is, at times, equivalent to herding cats.

Taylor County has needed a more formalized leadership structure for some time. At the same time, county board members and particularly the committee chairs, have been reluctant to give up authority to staff members.

Defining the duties and authority of the administrative coordinator is a necessary step forward for Taylor County leadership so that board members can focus on policy rather than hands-on day to day management.

Members of the Taylor County Board’s Executive Committee started the process recently with administrative coordinator/ human resources director Nicole Hager presenting what another county had in place for their coordinator’s duties and responsibilities. The goal will be for them to review the list and refine it to meet the needs of Taylor County and bring it to the full county board for approval later this summer.

Such a move will provide much needed consolidation of leadership and streamlining of the chain of command, while maintaining the authority of the county board as the final decision makers in the county.