Hiring of county administrator gets Trumbull commissioners riled up
By Ed Runyan
While the Trumbull County commissioners had hoped to answer some of the calls for change in county government suggested by a citizens committee, one such recommendation has touched a nerve.
At Wednesday’s county commissioners meeting, it became clear that the possible hiring of a county administrator to assist the commissioners will be anything but simple.
First, when recent Republican county commissioner candidate Mary Williams of Cortland questioned Commissioner Frank Fuda about the idea, Fuda again expressed concern.
He wondered how hiring a full-time county administrator would save money when the county already has three people serving as what Fuda called “part-time county administrators.”
One is Paulette Godfrey, commissioners clerk and interim county administrator since the last county administrator left in 2006.
Another is attorney Jim Misocky, whose title is projects manager; and the third is Richard Jackson, the recently hired county human-resources director, who also helps the commissioners with other matters.
But Commissioner Dan Polivka said none of those is a county administrator.
The administrator issue is also a sore spot because it was learned this week that Jackson and Mike Matas, chairman of the citizen budget committee that recommended the hiring of a county administrator, have both formally applied for the administrator’s job.
The commissioners put Jackson in charge of advertising the job and collecting resumes for the position, but he didn’t tell the commissioners he would be would be applying for the job.
Polivka, who provided Matas’ name as one of his choices to serve on the budget committee, said he sees nothing wrong with Matas being a contender for the position because Matas’ current job and high salary would suggest he might be qualified. Matas, of Cortland, is Lake County’s budget director.
“We don’t even know if we’ll be able to get him because they pay him close to $100,000 in Lake County,” Polivka said of Matas.
Fuda, meanwhile, said Jackson is “doing a super job as human-resource person and administrator. He’s the go-to-guy we have here in Trumbull County.”
Commissioner Mauro Cantalamessa headed a committee that hired Jackson as HR director after Fuda raised concerns during the summer of 2016 about what he considered improper influence from commissioners regarding hiring.
“He’s not an administrator,” Polivka said of Jackson. “I don’t know where you get this. We hired an HR director.”
Jackson responded that a discussion about qualifications is premature. “We have not had the opportunity as of yet to even review all of the resumes,” Jackson said.
Cantalamessa, meanwhile, a supporter of hiring a county administrator, then questioned Jackson about Jackson’s intention to seek the position himself.
“Why didn’t you come to me to tell me you were going to apply for that, to be the full-time administrator?” Cantalamessa asked.
“I didn’t want any special favors. I wanted to stand on my own two feet and be judged by my actions, by my work,” Jackson said.