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Council OKs administrator funding

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The Montgomery County Council on Tuesday voted in favor of funding the new county administrator position through at least next year after spending the past two months at odds with county commissioners over how to fund it.

The council voted 5-2 in favor of paying for the position out of the Riverboat Fund during what they consider to be a “trial run” through the end of 2020. Gary Booth and Terry Hockersmith voted no. 

Addressing the county administrator position was originally left off the council agenda that was sent out last week. It was also left off the agenda in June after the council tabled an additional appropriation in May to pay for the position through the end of the year. The council considered appropriating $50,000 to pay for the position through December but decided to wait until commissioners agreed to reduce the cumulative bridge fund rate next year to pay for the position’s salary and benefits.

It was only added to the agenda this time after councilman Greg Morrison requested it at Monday’s county commissioner meeting.

“I asked for it to be on there because I think it’s time we address it and move forward with it if we’re going to get somebody,” Morrison said Tuesday. “The council and commissioners both seem to agree that creating this position could be a good thing. But we keep pointing fingers back and forth about who’s going to pay for it.”

According to state statute, the council is responsible for finding the funding if it chooses to, but put the pressure on commissioners to reduce the tax rate for a fund that is specifically used to build and repair the county’s bridges in order to pay for the position. Commissioners considered but decided that wasn’t an option due to the level of work that’s needed on bridges. 

“It seems to go back and forth of who’s going to pay for it and where the money’s going to come from,” Morrison said. “I’m in favor of the position. I’m in favor of trying it. I think it can be a good and positive thing for the county. I’m not in favor of taking away from the cumulative bridge fund with the winter and spring that we’ve had.”

Councilman Mark Davidson suggested going with the Riverboat Fund to get things going and see how the position plays out. But Morrison sees the standoff over funding a county administrator as an example of a battle between county officials.

“I’m starting my third year on this council and I was elected by the county to improve and grow Montgomery County,” Morrison said. “I think that’s what all of us got into for. But we seem to have a power struggle between the council and the commissioners, and we seem to have a struggle for control problem between the two of us and amongst ourselves also. So it’s time for us to leave our personal differences outside and focus on moving the county forward, and get through this power struggle thing and work together.” 

In other business, the council appointed John Hedrick to the county’s new board of zoning appeals. Hedrick will join Steve Loy, Todd Douglas and Seth Howell, who were appointed by county commissioners on Monday. The Montgomery County Plan Commission will make one appointment at their meeting July 24.

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