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Opinion: County Administrator Won't Cut It

Written By Editor on 3/27/14 | 3/27/14

In the midst of two hours of back and forth arguing over the $2.6 million stream bank project budget shortfall this past Friday, Town of Broome Supervisor Bill Smith voiced his first public support for adopting a county administrator to provide additional oversight in Schoharie County government. Two months ago, the Schoharie News would have agreed; today, not a chance. 

There is no telling how we have reached this point in county affairs, as the tale varies depending on who you talk to in power, but one thing is for certain: there are no easy fixes to this crisis of mismanagement and corruption, and no band-aid solutions that will correct our county's faulty heading. 

Supervisors Milone and VanWormer should both be applauded for recognizing the status quo needs to be disrupted in some form on the county board, and that local government is in desperate need of real oversight after the Ethington and AECOM scandals. However, elevating one person - whether it be an administrator or an empowered Chairman - just wont cut it anymore.

The reason being is that nothing would change. Occupants of both proposed positions would be beholden to the county board for reappointment or reelection, and as such, they would be temperate in leadership as to not jeopardize their status. In addition, what's to say either position wouldn't become just a scapegoat of the very entrenched power they are being proposed to oversee?

Herein lies the crux of the county's dilemma - if we cannot trust the system we have to work, and neither of the proposed solutions would move the football beyond supplying the county board with a public scapegoat - then what other course of action is left but to consider taking the ultimate step and approving the creation of a county executive. 

Although the proposal is the bane of the board's existence, can we look at this objectively for one minute: is there any conceivable way having an elected, full-time county executive who would have the power to check the excesses of the Board of Supervisors, while monitoring the actions of department heads and ensuring all gears of county government work properly turn out bad? 

We don't think there is, but we could be wrong, of course. The editorial view of this internet newspaper has and always will be that reform is needed to sweep the ills of corruption, mismanagement and the public's lack of faith in local government out of the county system once and for all. But what do we know? We're just idealists... The only people who can change the system are the people of Schoharie County.  
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Unknown said...

Schoharie County should have a County Executive & a County Legislature. A CEO would run the day to day operations, & be accountable to the PEOPLE. A legislature should be based on population sized districts, not towns, and would have the county as a whole as their focus. Town Supervisors would then concentrate on their towns. US Dept of Justice, under Republican control has sued Republican controlled counties ( & won ) in Federal Courts, that a Board of Supervisors violates the US Constitution idea of 1 person 1 vote forcing a population based County Legislature to be set up

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