Letters (March 29, 2017)

Time for a county administrator

These are big times for our county. The commissioners have agreed to invest in economic development in a dynamic way. And now, with Teresa Huffman retiring, we find ourselves in the position where we can imagine a new model of leadership for ourselves.

I have served on the USD 408 Board of Education for six years. During that time, I can assure you the person in the room with the most knowledge on budget, school law, and school operation was Lee Leiker, our superintendent. I have served and continue to serve on the board with many bright, talented, and wise individuals. However none of us could have done or could continue to do our job well without a good superintendent.

For too many years our county, which has a significantly higher budget and bigger reach, has been run by three part-time commissioners. They have done the best job they can given the inherent limits they face.

Meeting for a few hours a week to run the county is not an effective model for county leadership in 2017 when there are tens of millions of dollars being spent on an annual basis.

With the new economic development task force assembled and with Teresa Huffman retiring, I believe it is time for the county to hire a county administrator. This would be an individual that would oversee the day-in and day-out operations of the county while the commissioners would function like school board members. They would set policy and resolve differences that escalated to that point.

The model we are currently using is antiquated and irresponsible. We are in the perfect position to make changes that will put Marion County in a position to be successful in the future. A restructuring of leadership is the place to start.

I don’t write this with any ill will toward our current commissioners. I am thankful for their willingness to serve. I do believe, though, that they have a daunting task before them each week and the presence of a county administrator would greatly change the landscape of those challenges.

Jeremiah La•ge, preside•t

USD 408 Board of Educatio•