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Supervisors ponder if the county even needs coordinator

Pierce County Board members have begun reviewing the job description for administrative coordinator and, at the request of one supervisor, pondering if the county even needs one.

Finance committee members also voted early last week to pay County Board Chairman Paul Barkla, River Falls, $1,000 a month to serve as interim administrative coordinator. The pay is in addition to his $300 per month stipend for serving as county board chairman and the per diem fees paid for attending board and committee meetings.

Curt Kephart resigned May 16 after nearly three years as administrative coordinator. On May 27, the board named Barkla interim coordinator. His pay will be retroactive to that date.

A week ago Monday, Barkla, as county board chairman, appointed supervisors Ron Lockwood, Jeff Holst and Jim Ross to a subcommittee to revise the job description and report back to the finance committee.

After Kephart's predecessor Mark Schroeder resigned, the county board rewrote the job, making the position more of a coordinator than an executive.

In a memo to Holst, who chaired the finance committee meeting, Barkla said the county board "has to decide what it wants out of the position."

He also suggested the job be "a stronger position than what currently exists."

"I think this job can be whatever we choose to make it," responded Holst.

As the county looks at cutting expenses in other areas, it should also evaluate the value of the administrative coordinator position, said Supervisor Bill Gilles.

"I want to know whether we need an administrative coordinator. I want the $80,000 (annual salary) justified," said Gilles.

The board has sent mixed messages to administrative coordinators, said Supervisor John Kucinski. He said the county board has to decide what it wants the job to be and what authority it should have.

The county had an administrative coordinator with power and that didn't work, so it hired one with less power and no one liked that, said Kucinski.

"I think the only reason (the position) isn't needed is that the county board didn't allow it to function," said Kucinski. He added the board needs to clarify the relationship between supervisors and the AC.

A timeline developed by staff shows it will take at least six months for the board to develop and approve a job description, advertise for applicants, interview and hire a new candidate.