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County looks to hiring a grant writer ... again
During the hiring freeze of 2017, county commissioners eliminated three staff positions so they could fill three new positions in the Support Services Department. As a result, one of the employees laid off was a highly qualified and well respected grant writer and contract manager. Some citizens questioned the wisdom of eliminating a revenue generating position during a budget crunch, but those voices fell on deaf ears.
Cut to the June 8th commissioner briefing, wherein the most important item on the agenda was contracting for grant writer services. Those who tuned into the meeting heard Commissioner Neatherlin say that the county is missing out on a lot of free grant money and should hurry up and hire a local grant writer like the one they laid off; Commissioner Shutty said he was unaware of grants that could be used to offset normal operational expenses and questioned applying for grants that would increase pressure on already limited staff; And Commissioner Trask took the opportunity to reveal an unsettling lack of knowledge around the purpose and process of hiring a grant writer.
These types of commissioner discussions are all well and good, but they need to take place BEFORE pulling the trigger on a national outreach for grant writer services, not a month after, while assessing respondent qualifications, as was the case here.
Hiring decisions need to be influenced, if not guided, by a professional Human Resources Director, which the county no longer has. The current hodge-podge process is the result of a 2014 restructuring of operations that replaced top tier managers with lower level loyalists, and it is the same operational structure responsible for an increase in lawsuits, ballooning budgets and more long term debt.
A poor operational structure is not the only reason Mason County should consider shifting to an alternative form of government, and home rule it’s not a panacea for all the county’s issues. But operating by a charter that was designed by the community for the community is a heck of a lot better than being controlled by a three member board of commissioners operating without guidance, oversight or guardrails.
Home rule charter: Government designed by the people for the people.