IRON RIVER—The Iron County Board of Commissioners has given the go-ahead to appoint a committee that will move forward with a job search for a new county administrator.
The board held its March 13 bi-monthly meeting at the Iron River City Hall. Two commissioners, Bev Camp and Fran Wills, along with acting Administrator Sue Clisch, will serve on the hiring committee.
“We will give you full authorization to go forward,” said Chairman Wayne Wales.
The action followed a discussion during the financial reports on a review that local CPA Scott Kenney had given to the board at a special meeting held March 8.
At that meeting, Kenney recommended the board hire an administrator rather than explore a popular “team management” administration concept.
“The environment here in Iron County is not currently appropriate for the team management approach,” he said.
He suggested the county seek an individual with a master’s degree in finance or accounting, in effect, hiring a CEO for the county.
One of the serious issues he identified was to establish more centralized accounting. Now, it is spread across multiple offices and departments.
This generates the negative comments at the audit. It’s not a slam to the county, he said, but there isn’t the accountability required, and it’s not the board’s role to act as a micromanager.
The board should not put off an administrator search for too long, Kenney said.
At the March 13 meeting, Commissioner Rosalie King questioned the bill he presented to the county, which was over $1,000.
Kenney had been hired to provide accounting services and recommendations in advance of the county’s annual audit.
Clisch said he had been hired to come in, take information from the department heads and sort things out. This he did, she added.
Along with his recommendation on the administrator position, he noted an ongoing deficit in Central Dispatch and areas where checks and cash had not been reported in the right manner.
Civil Counsel Steve Tinti explained the hiring of an outside accountant for financial advice was the result of GATSB34 accounting rules.
It is no longer legal for the auditors to give financial advice. And, he added, “We don’t have an administrator to put the pieces together.
“You haven’t gone through an audit without an administrator in 10 years.”
He told the board, in his opinion, the model for county government almost guarantees there will be accounting issues in various departments.
Part of the reason was because some department heads are elected, others are county employees, and they consider different priorities when reporting for their departments.
As long as this model exists, he said, there are going to be problems.
That being said, he added, Iron County’s issues are not as serious as other counties.
The board approved the review of bills.
in other business:
--Wales reported he had a discussion with a member of the Chicaugon Lake Property Owners Association, who asked if the group could address the board on the status of the boat wash project at Pentoga Park.
He said the group was willing to raise money for the boat wash. Wales invited the group to talk to the board.
Tinti said the history of the project started with a timber sale at the park, raising about $11,000 for a boat wash. Pentoga Park is a natural checkpoint, he said, for boats both being launched into the lake, and, since approximately 21 acres of the lake has had Eurasian milfoil identified in it, important for boats coming out of the lake, as well.
“The natural access is through the park,” he said. “We were looking at that. We got to the point of design and engineering, then some grants fell apart. So there is still some money sitting in a fund for the boat wash.”
He cautioned the board to remember there are other lakes with county property adjacent, and to keep that in mind.
--Wales said all parties involved in the recent agreements for the Heritage Trail non-motorized bike path are satisfied with the outcome.
--Sheriff Mark Valesano told the board he would recommend the county pass a resolution of support asking the state Department of Corrections to review criteria used to determine eligibility for parole of violent and repeat offenders. It would be a good gesture, of support, he said, to Oakland County, who crafted the resolution.
--The board approved the release of accumulated vacation benefits to Charles Fish and Bruch Schabel, both from the corrections department.
--The board tabled two agenda items; that of approved the contract for independent contractor services for the Economic Development Corporation and an appointment to the EDC board.