The New County Manager Needs to Know He Doesn’t Work FOR the County Council
This morning on the radio, KPCW’s Leslie Thatcher interviewed Summit County’s new County Manager Tom Fisher. He seems like a very affable fellow. He made a number of good points like “I just want to step in and learn and listen and understand everything I don’t know because I don’t know a whole lot.” That shows humility and gives the feeling this isn’t his first rodeo. However, one statement of Mr Fisher’s gave us pause:
“The main thing to understand is that I do work for the council and they give me my marching orders and the county’s marching orders.”
In one way that is true. The County Manager is hired and can be fired by the county council. As they say, he serves at the pleasure of the council. Yet, in many aspects of his job, he is an equal to the members of the council. His job is the Chief Executive Officer of Summit County. He runs the day to day operations of the county and has the power to appoint individuals to offices and positions. The council is the legislative body of the county. The difference is that the county council does not perform any administrative or executive functions. There are many decisions, like final approval of the Canyons golf course, that have fallen to the County Manager.
This is not to say that the council and manager should be odds. They should generally be working as a team. However, there are times when the manager has to stand up say, “No. This is my decision.” That’s something that former County Manager Bob Jasper was good at.
We hope Mr. Fisher realizes that’s his role too… and comes up to speed quickly enough to make those tough decisions when they are both important and HIS to make.
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