County offices could merge
September 13, 2013
Every four years, the Summit County Council can decide whether it wants consolidated or unconsolidated County Courthouse departments. Such a move would have an impact on next year’s election should certain offices be merged.
Summit County Manager Bob Jasper said the County Council has asked for his recommendations. Four years ago, he said, he requested a different configuration of county offices but the Council decided not to go forward with his plan.
Assessor Steve Martin brought up the possibility that the county could merge the the auditor and clerk offices. The recorder and the treasurer could also be merged, he said, acknowledging there is concern with the idea.
"It’s kind of too bad because if someone [qualified as an auditor] is running for clerk/auditor, the clerk part is secondary or loses its significance," Martin said.
Recorder MaryAnn Trussell said her office is already dual-functioning, as it serves as the depository for surveyors. She envisions expertise being lost should the offices merge.
"I think they would, in one way or the other, lose the knowledge because if I ran and my office is combined with the treasurer’s, I don’t know the treasurer’s side of things as well," Trussell said.
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"It’s a big concern for the four offices involved because are you going to hire somebody to run the Recorder’s Office as a chief deputy or as a supervisor?" Martin said. "The chief deputy has the authority of the recorder to make decisions and legislate the supervisor is just staff, he can’t attend meetings with any voting power."
One thing that does need to be done, Jasper said, is to create an elected surveyor position. He wants to formally consolidate the surveyor with the Recorder’s Office. He sees the recorder as the official county surveyor who would contract with a professional surveyor to get projects completed.
"Many counties have an elected surveyor," Jasper said. "In our case, nobody has ever run."
Jasper has not decided whether to propose merging any departments at this point. He said he will make formal recommendations in the next month or two, and the County Council has until January to decide what action, if any, it wants to take.
Martin added that currently the county is growing, and he likened it to a business.
"[The county] is thinking they can save money, but typically when a company is growing, they don’t consolidate, [they] specialize," Martin said. "Then you lose two elected officials. Surprisingly, this is not something people get to vote on."