Commissioners will do it all, and get the glory or the blame

While we have long believed that running a county the size of Mahoning is complicated enough that hiring an administrator was prudent if not absolutely necessary, times do change.

And in Mahoning County change has come in the way of two of the three commissioners deciding — largely in private, though hardly by surprise — that the contract of County Administrator George Tablack would not be renewed.

Well, as we said, times change, and we can only surmise through this action that the commissioners have decided that the time has come for them to treat their own jobs as full-time jobs — which for most working stiffs means a minimum of 40 hours a week in the office and, as all managers know, evening and weekend work as the tasks demand.

That’s the least that can be expected from Commissioner Carol Rimedio-Righetti and Commissioner John A. McNally IV, who signed the letter telling Tablack to clear out his office and turn in his keys by today. And obviously it would be bad form of the third commissioner Anthony Traficanti to put in any fewer hours, even if he didn’t sign on to giving Tablack the boot.

The job of a county commissioner in Ohio can be as demanding or as undemanding as the jobholder chooses to make it. A commissioner answers only to the taxpayers as to the hours they keep. And the taxpayers don’t have access to the commissioners timecards because commissioners don’t punch time clocks.

People who spend a lot of time at the Courthouse have a pretty good idea of who keeps regular hours and who doesn’t, but it’s no one’s job to be keep tabs on the men and women at the top. And it’s been our experience while interviewing dozens of commissioner candidates from three counties over a couple of decades, that even those commissioners with a reputation for putting in long hours are reluctant to rat-out their less industrious colleagues.

Full-time salary

Commissioners in counties such as Mahoning, in the population range of 200,000 to 400,000, are paid about $77,000 a year, plus handsome fringe benefits. So it’s not unreasonable to expect these officeholders to put in full-time hours and to have the skills necessary to run what is equivalent to a major company.

To the extent that they don’t, an experienced and knowledgeable administrator can make up for any number of deficiencies.

Rimedio-Righetti and McNally have now proclaimed that they need no such backup. They are telling their constituents that they can make whatever executive decisions need to be made. They will, however, hire a budget director at about two-thirds the salary Tablack drew as administrator/budget director. Due to Tablack’s experience as county auditor and his education as a CPA, finding his replacement will be challenging. Obviously Rimedio-Righetti and McNally are confident someone just as good or better will be happy to take the job.

If there isn’t, they’ll have no one to blame but themselves. For that matter, whatever happens in Mahoning County government now, there will be no one to blame or to take credit but the commissioners.

Rimedio-Righetti, McNally and Traficanti are Mahoning County’s triumvirate. What could possibly go wrong?

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