It's too early in the process to determine if Wood County should have an administrator. But it's a good idea for the County Board to consider.
Municipalities seem to be moving more in the direction of hired administrators rather than relying on elected leaders. From cities to counties, opting to hire someone with expertise seems to be more prevalent.
It would make sense that someone elected might not have all the qualifications necessary to run a city or a county. Hiring a qualified person would eliminate the possibility a leader could be voted out or replaced in a political move. It's not likely, but the possibility exists.
Wood County used to routinely change its board leadership, with chairmen serving for a couple of years before being replaced by the vice chairman. Typically, the leadership shifted between north- and south-end board members. Not all chairmen were created equally.
More recently, Lance Pliml has served as chairman and taken on more duties as an administrative coordinator. While not a true county administrator, his role is closer to that than to chairmen of the past. But Pliml won't always be County Board chairman, and at some point, the county will need to address how it plans to operate. Will a new chairman follow in Pliml's footsteps, or will the chairman position revert to what it was before?
The County Board has had direct oversight of department heads. If something goes wrong or a question or concern arises, department heads are on the line, answering directly to County Board members.
Adding an administrator would change the way Wood County does business, removing a lot of that oversight from the County Board's agenda. Instead, the board would determine policy, but it wouldn't manage departments.
The board approved creating an Ad Hoc Administrator Study Committee to consider how the county should proceed. Members plan to interview Pliml to determine what he does, as well as administrators, coordinators and County Board members from other counties with administrators.
The committee will need to set the requirements and responsibilities Wood County would need. Any recommendation by the committee will go to the full board for approval.
We commend the County Board for being proactive in this matter. It's good to make a plan and consider the options. Doing business the way it's always been done might be OK, but Wood County might find it's time for a change, too.