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Posted: November 11, 2011 12:00 a.m.

Changing the county structure

A special work session of the Board of Commissioners of Newton County was held Monday night to determine the continuing status of the Administrative Assistant position and how that position would function and report. Up to this time the position held by Mr. Middleton reported directly to the Chairman of the Board of Commissioners Kathy Morgan. Chairman Morgan had full administrative power and singular control of the daily operations of Newton County.

Unless you were asleep during the session, it was abundantly clear that Morgan was determined not to relinquish any power and control. She repeatedly insisted that such a change to the Administrative Officer position constituted a change in the form of government and was not in compliance with State Code for the board to amend these positions. She maintained this position despite confirmation by the County Attorney Tommy Craig that the Supreme Court has ruled on previous occasions that creation of a County Manager position is not a change in the form of government and within the power of the Board of Commissioners.

District Three Commissioner Nancy Schulz maintained that it was more efficient and more representative to have a single point of contact through the chairman and was not in favor of the change. I must ask why she thinks that the American corporate structure that has created the most successful business environment in the world would not be an improvement for the operation of the county? I refer to the corporate structure of a CEO reporting to a Board of Directors with the CEO being responsible for the daily operations and the board holding all policy making, budgeting and long range planning authority.

We gain the advantage of having a professional manager responsible for the daily operations who is a contract employee working at the pleasure of the board.
This will not be a trial run for this organizational structure. There are many counties successfully using this method of managing operations.

Simply put, this change moves the control of county operations from one person to a board of duly elected representatives of commission districts in the county.
Surely, the citizens have more access and voice with their local District Commissioner than they have with Chairman Morgan.

This is definitely a move to a more representative structure for the citizens of Newton County.


William Perugino is active in local and regional politics and can be reached at william.perugino@jacobs.com.

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