To bicker or solve problems- what are we gonna do BOC?

December 16, 2011

While County employees sit on pins and needles wondering if they are going to have jobs next month, the ruling County body, the Board of Commissioners spends most of their bi-weekly meeting arguing over whether County Administrator Tracy Byard should carry the title of Controller as well as County Administrator.

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For weeks now I’m been patiently waiting for the Commissioners to put together a comprehensive plan to reduce expenses at the County level. They themselves warned everyone just six weeks ago that the County was teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, and that the State might have to appoint their own Administrator, with wide-ranging powers to take over Clare County government.

To avoid financial ruin, the Board of Commissioners, appointed a committee (mostly County department heads and insiders) to come up with a plan that would reduce expenses and bring the County back to financial solvency. At the time the Commissioners appeared to be extremely concerned that a plan of action had to be formulated quickly.

The next two Commission meetings, however, have been dominated by bickering between the seven commissioners over matters that have had nothing to do with the budget. Last week was particularly disturbing to this observer.

Why? Instead of working together as a tight-knit governmental body, the commissioners appear to be totally divided about several issues. Last week it was Byard, and whether or not she should have the title of Controller or not. To me, fighting over someone’s title is preposterous. Who cares what she’s called?

Well it appeared a lot of people cared. Although there was no talk of reducing her salary, some of her financial duties would be shifted to the clerk and treasurer. According to Commission Chairman Don David the move would actually make it easier to prepare the annual budget, but Byard strenuously argued against that.

Then it was also brought up that two-thirds of the Commissioners would need to vote “yes” to take away the controller title but only a simple majority to remove her from office totally. It appears that maybe some commissioners were using the controller removal as the first step to totally removing Byard, although no one publicly admitted to that.

Hence in the midst of the budget crisis, we now have a power struggle. At the Committee of the Whole meeting ( I’ve never understood why there is a Committee of the Whole- it’s just a way for the entire Board to meet without having to deal with specific rules that govern a real meeting) Commissioners voted 5-2 to remove the title of Controller from Byard. It is presumed at their real meeting this Wednesday, that same vote will take place, making the decision official.

I implore commissioners to get back to the real business at hand. Have your vote, that’s fine. But let’s get down to making the tough decisions you were elected to do. Number one would be making the necessary cuts that would save the County from financial ruin. Let’s get at it, guys.

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