A leadership team will handle interim duties while Crow Wing County seeks a new administrator.
The county board 3-2 vote Tuesday to accept the offer from department heads to provide the leadership team followed the recommendations from departing administrator David Hamilton. But it wasn't a decision that came easily.
In the end, Board Chairwoman Rachel Reabe Nystrom cast the deciding vote. Commissioners Paul Thiede and Rosemary Franzen voted against. But Thiede said he was so conflicted he was thinking of changing his vote had Nystrom voted no.
Thiede said a vote against the leadership plan wasn't against the offer from capable department heads. Thiede said he had reservations as to how the leadership team, after handling duties in the interim, would be able to work with an administrator later.
Franzen said she came in with her mind set on an interim administrator and she was concerned the department heads would be stretched too thin.
Establishing a leadership team was one of Hamilton's goals when he arrived in the fall of 2006 and the concept was there in the group that met him for his preliminary job interview here.
I don't want us to limp along. I want us to sprint along.
Rachel Reabe Nystrom
Tami Laska, human resources director, said the leadership team approach would save money that would otherwise be spent on an interim administrator. And the option serves as a development opportunity for the team. Commissioners Dewey Tautges and Doug Houge were in favor of the idea. Laska said the board would always have the option of seeking an interim administrator if they found the team leadership approach wasn't working.
Deborah Erickson, auditor, said the leadership team is made of the same people who would have to assist an interim administrator. Using the leadership team would be a step in the right direction, she said.
"I'd grab it," Hamilton said of the leadership team offer. Hamilton said he thinks the next administrator would be overjoyed to step in with the leadership group.
Nystrom said she didn't want to simply hold things together during a search that could take a years.
"I don't want us to limp along," she said. "I want us to sprint along."
With people who specialize in interim administration available, Nystrom said there may be a good opportunity out there. Erickson said the team is going to move forward with the board's policy. An interim administrator could have a short-term focus, she said.
For Houge, the cost savings weren't as important as giving leadership team members a chance to prove themselves. Houge seconded Tautges' motion to move forward with the team approach and not hire an interim administrator.
The leadership team plans to meet weekly, with the auditor serving as the primary liaison to the board. The team includes Susan Beck, human services director, Todd Dahl, sheriff, Jim Eder, information services director, Erickson, Laska, Lyndon Robjent, highway engineer and Don Sigety, surveyor.
"I have every confidence you will attract the very best and brightest to this organization," Hamilton said. "It's a wonderful opportunity for somebody in county administration."
RENEE RICHARDSON may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5852.
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