In my first six months serving on the Pinedale Town Council, I have witnessed a large number of frustrating things, and one of the most maddening also seems to be the most obvious to fix: the town lacks an administrator. Hiring a full-time person to help save the town money may sound a bit ironic; however, our council meets on average five hours per month, while last year we spent $34,000,000. This expenditure of roughly $34,000 per Pinedale household was approved over the course of just 60 hours of council meetings, or over a half-million dollars per hour that we were in
For comparison, the town of Jackson with its 200 employees (to our 23) spends the same amount as we do, while Afton has the same number of employees as Pinedale but makes do with just 1/8 of our annual budget. Granted, these other communities do not have our mineral resources, but they receive more services for each dollar spent.
At the end of January, Pinedale’s community outreach coordinator Hyun Kim is leaving to become the town administrator of Afton. We will be losing the one person on the town staff educated as a public administrator and who understands the myriad issues that are constant for any town: budgets, contracting, projecting revenue, salaries and insurance costs, scheduling and public outreach.
Mr. Kim was working on the implementation of a human resources program to cut costs and allow the council to recognize and retain good employees and not continue with the current policy that longevity and inertia, not performance or customer service, are the paths to pay scales well above the state average. The HR policy has not yet been adopted, but it would go a long way toward cutting the 17 percent per year increase in salaries we have witnessed over the last six years, as well as set new employees on a clear path of career advancement.
In our search for Mr. Kim’s replacement, I hope that the discussion on the council centers around who minds the store the 94 percent of the time the council is not in session? Our system of a part-time mayor works well for public events and council meetings, but is ineffective for the day-to-day management of the town’s staff, contracts and budgetary oversight where many expenditures go unnoticed. In my estimation, we could have cut $1,500,000 from last year’s budget just having someone on staff who could manage the town’s contracts. It is time we hire a professional town administrator.
Pinedale Town CouncilFor the complete article see the 01-25-2013 issue.
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