Although frustration with the Barrow County Board of Commissioners is palatable in the community, a move to hire a county administrator is less than an ideal solution.
But that’s exactly what some members of the BOC propose to do in a bid to wrest control away from chairman Danny Yearwood, whose tenure has been one of running conflicts and anger management issues.
Still, a hired administrator won’t solve those problems. For one thing, the county charter clearly puts the day-to-day control of Barrow’s government into the hands of the chairman. Anyone hired by the BOC under whatever title would report to Yearwood; no action by the board can override the charter.
The result in Barrow would likely be akin to a muddy tractor-pull where Yearwood tells the hired administrator to do one thing while the BOC tells him (or her) to do the opposite. No professional administrator would want to be caught in the middle of that mess.
The other big problem with a hired administrator or county manager is the cost. The minimum would be in the $100k range, not counting benefits and a personal secretary. Hired county managers always add direct costs to the system and most are fairly liberal spenders.
Just look at Barrow’s own history. A previous county administrator led Barrow on a spend-a-thon with high salaries and massive spending programs. Many of the problems Barrow has faced over the last year were due to that runaway spending that had to come down after the economic crash.
When political and personal conflicts arise in local government, there is always the temptation to “professionalize” the government involved.
But that isn’t always a good solution. Look at neighboring Jackson County where a series of county managers fiddled around for years. Getting rid of one cost the county over $400,000. And that was in a county with a manager form of government.
If Barrow leaders are sure hiring someone to run the county is the best option, they should wait and change the county charter next year through the legislative process.
Until then, however, hiring more people who would have to report to Yearwood will just muddy what are already dark waters in Barrow County. The chairman isn’t going to cede any of his power; to think otherwise is wishful dreaming by BOC members and sets up more, not less, internal conflict.