Administrator issue dead for now


By David Avitabile

The question of whether Schoharie County should add an executive or administrator to lead the county government died quietly Friday afternoon.
A thorough study was done, said Conesville Supervisor Mike Brandow, head of the board’s Rules and Legislation Committee, and there is no reason to change the county’s current form of government.
Supervisors listened to the recommendation and took no action Friday.
“We can find no compelling reason, no catastrophic breakdown of our government or no obvious inefficiency that is costly to the taxpayer that would warrant a major restructuring of Schoharie County’s government,” Mr. Brandow said.
“So it is understandable that the members of the committee, as reported, are not in favor of a public administrator at this time.”
The committee, Mr. Brandow said, spoke to other supervisors, department heads and residents “and have found no concrete positive evidence, only an academic argument, that the addition of a public administrator would benefit Schoharie County…We looked to see if we could identify any place within Schoharie County government that an administrator would make a dramatic difference, to no avail.”
The only supervisor to speak in favor of continuing to research the issue was Carl Barbic of Seward.
Mr. Barbic, a former clerk of the board, said he has been promoting the idea of an administrator for 20 years and no one asked him.
A change is needed, he said.
“We don’t have any system where we have a point person” to go to,” Mr. Barbic said.
County officials should have spoken to other administrators and others who “are working in the trenches.”
The county, he added, seems “intent to keep things as is and not in the interest of the taxpayers.”
Mr. Brandow said the county’s present system of government, which uses a committee system, seems to work the best.
Having an administrator would probably be the end of the committee system “distancing the supervisors and by consequence, the voters they represent,” he said.
The county’s government has only two layers, supervisors and staff and is “uncomplicated, understandable,” Mr. Brandow said.
“It is, in our opinion, the streamlined government that everybody else is seeking.
“It is by no means perfect, but is less imperfect than most other governments.”
He noted that Fulton County has an administrator, under the title of administrative officer/clerk of the board, which is similar to Schoharie County’s position of clerk of the board/auditor.
“We were jolted by the realization that Schoharie County might in fact be functioning with an administrator equivalent, embedded seamlessly, efficiently and cost effectively into the system, but without the title,” he said.
“This insight moved us to a determination that there is no convincing reason to study this issue further at this time.”
Wayne Stinson, a member of Schoharie Citizens for Professional Governance, was not surprised by the decision.
“Mr. Brandow had guided his committee in the task that he was given, to deep six this idea.” Mr. Stinson said Friday night.
The issue will come up again but nothing will change until supervisors realize that there is an advantage to having an administrator, he said.
Supervisors, he added, do not understand the role of an administrator.
“That will take time. They may see it in the future, who knows? The problem won’t go away…It will be back.”
He said he was disappointed in the decision.
“I had a glimmer of hope they might do some research.”