Cook County Commissioners are thinking about revamping the county’s management structure. Instituting a county administrator position has been a topic of discussion on and off over the years. With the passage of the 1 percent local option sales tax, the board is now seriously considering the matter.
Community Center Director Diane Booth asked the board on Tuesday for planning direction on behalf of the center’s board of trustees. Grand Marais Mayor Sue Hakes presented a letter calling for quick action on the community center/pool as well as the library expansion. Commissioners expressed concern that all of this was too much too soon.
Commissioner Jim Johnson said stakeholders on the various projects needed to start preparing information for the board. Commissioner Bruce Martinson said he thought there were too many issues for the board to deal with them without help. Commissioner Bob Fenwick said the board was not ready to engage in discussions with the various stakeholders with any hope of giving them direction.
“The board has too many things on its plate to be able to deal with them effectively,” said Fenwick. He continued saying that in addition to the one percent sales tax issue, the county needs to help coordinate law enforcement communications, adjust to state-mandated social services restructuring, and deal with ongoing personnel matters. “Holy Cow,” he added, “the board needs recommendations on how to get all these things accomplished.”
Fenwick then asked Board Chair Fritz Sobanja to invite a representative from the Association of Minnesota Counties to meet with the board specifically to discuss the next step in county management. That step could result in the hiring of a county administrator who would act as the point person for the board in coordinating and prioritizing all board obligations.