First week a busy one for new County Council | ParkRecord.com

First week a busy one for new County Council

Patrick Parkinson, Of the Record staff

Summit County will host its own inauguration ceremony of sorts before the president-elect takes his oath of office this month.

With the swearing in today of the Summit County Council the new council/manager form of government voters approved two years ago takes effect. The ceremony begins in Coalville at noon.

The five-member Summit County Council will replace the three-person County Commission. Retiring Commissioners Bob Richer and Ken Woolstenhulme did not seek seats on the new board.

Those slated today to take the oath of office include County Councilors-elect Sally Elliott, Claudia McMullin, John Hanrahan, Chris Robinson and David Ure.

The first order of business for the new officials: setting their own salaries.

Councilpersons will likely start off earning about $30,000 per year. Including benefits, the total yearly compensation package is worth roughly $45,000. The compensation County Commission members received in 2008 was worth about $75,000.

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Councilors will likely earn less than commissioners because an executive manager will be hired to oversee day-to-day operations in the county.

But hiring a manager could take six months as

the County Council names three people to a five-member appointment committee that is responsible for seating a second board to interview potential candidates for the powerful post, Summit County Councilwoman-elect Claudia McMullin said in a telephone interview Tuesday.

The second five-member panel will interview applicants and provide three names to the Summit County Council as finalists for the position, she said.

"We just get the three final candidates and we interview them," McMullin said. "If we don’t like any of them, we tell the second group of five to go try again."

According to Summit County Councilman-elect Chris Robinson, "Much of the process for hiring a county manager has been handed to us, and it is probably not the process that I would have selected."

"We could make a big deal out of this appointment committee or we could spend a more modest amount of time, do a good job still and find the three people who will select two more, who will select five who will select three. It’s a very insulated process," Robinson said.

Meanwhile, Anita Lewis will continue serving alongside interim Summit County Manager Brian Bellamy in the controversial assistant manager post the County Commission created last year.

"I do think we’re going to need an assistant county manager but I think that that need is going to be ultimately determined by the county manager," McMullin replied when asked if Lewis’ is a temporary post.

But until a permanent manager is selected, Robinson said he is comfortable with Bellamy and Lewis overseeing the executive branch of government in the interim.

"The county manager, to be on top of all these things, he or she is going to need some help," Robinson said.

Finally, with the expected retirement of Summit County Justice Court Judge Lynn Sadler this year, the County Council will soon appoint a new jurist, Assistant County Manager Lewis said.

The Summit County Commission did not make a decision in December after interviewing several applicants for the position, she said.

"The more they got to talking about it, and where the County Council will be working more closely with this person, they thought it might be better to have the council work with that process," Lewis said. "Who is appointed would have that job for a long time and they just didn’t feel like they wanted to rush and make a decision."

The County Council will meet Friday at 9 a.m. to determine its goals for 2009.

"The list is long of things that might be there," Robinson said, adding that he is concerned about the economic recession. "In the back of my mind, that underlies almost everything that we do [is] how we’re going to pay for things, which gets back to the budget, which gets back to how serious of a retrenchment we are in."

Two important Summit County Council meetings: Oath of office ceremony Jan. 7 at noon at the Summit County Courthouse, 60 N. Main in Coalville; Discussion of 2009 goals Jan. 9 at 9 a.m. at the Basin Recreation building, 5715 Trailside Drive