Franklin County’s first deadline for applications for its new county administrator passed Friday.
However, two of the county commissioners hope the applicants are more qualified than what is listed in the job description. They would have liked to have seen more requirements, but disagreed on what the qualifications should be.
Commissioners gave their go-ahead at a recent meeting for the final job description without a formal vote, Commissioner Bob Koch said.
The county’s job posting requires a bachelor’s degree and at least four years in organizational management, preferably in the public sector.
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It lists an annual salary range of $116,000 to $121,000, which is more than the $113,184 that former County Administrator Fred Bowen made before retiring in February.
The administrator provides professional assistance to commissioners for budget matters and oversees management of non-elected departments, including public works, planning and building, information services, facilities, the TRAC event center and the nearby recreational vehicle park, according to the job description.
The human resources department wrote the job description, with input from commissioners. Commissioner Rick Miller said he met individually with human resources staff. The department then gave the commissioners a preliminary list of qualifications and asked them to suggest any changes.
Miller would have liked to have seen about eight years in management required, he said.
“I think this is a huge job,” he said. “I think they need to be pretty well experienced and have a good track record.”
Koch was OK with the management requirement as written, but wanted a requirement of at least two years of financial experience, he said. The posting now only lists “knowledge of Washington state and local budgeting and fiscal management policies.”
“I would rather not get somebody from out of state who will have to completely learn the auditing system,” Koch said. “The other two commissioners felt they could get more applicants by not having it in there.”
Koch said former administrator Fred Bowen, who left for a job with Benton County’s public works department, always did a good job bringing the commission information on the budget.
“Hopefully, we can sort that out when we look at the applicants,” he said.
Commission Chairman Brad Peck said it’s important not to make the initial qualifications too narrow and potentially eliminate strong candidates.
“I have learned after many years that sometimes prime credentials are not the only measure,” Peck said. “Sometimes four or five years in the right kind of position are more valuable than many years in another position.”
Peck is confident with the job human resources is doing with the search.
“We have a professional human resources staff, and it’s appropriate to let them do the job,” he said.
Officials plan to start going through the applications on Monday, Koch said.
Finding someone who has managed finances is important, Miller said. But commissioners could still find applicants with more experience in the future.
Miller is open to hiring a search firm, at an estimated $20,000, if the initial group of applicants is not strong enough.
“I’m not ready to pick somebody in the first round unless they are really good, and they’ve got what we want,” he said.
Koch wants to go through the applicants before determining whether they need to look further.
“Hopefully, we’ll have a handful and it will take some time,” he said.
Human resources determined the salary range for the position, but Miller agreed that it should be higher than what Bowen made to make it competitive with what other governments pay. They might end up paying more than what is now posted.
“We’ve just got to get good, quality people,” Miller said. “We’re growing so much, we’ve got so much going on, we’ve got to up the rate.”