Been a long detour
There's a feeling out there that the Morgan County Commissioners are adrift and spend much of their time on small details that don't matter much to citizens' lives.
We understand that with a new member and a new president, there's a desire to reshape county government to their liking, but a lot of what's going on seems needless and disruptive.
Last Thursday, for instance, the commissioners seemed to spend their whole meeting on such things as whether to drop the county's post office box and their ever-shifting personnel issues. At recent meetings, they've debated when county maintenance workers should begin their work day, whether it is safe for employees to drive county vehicles to the post office and assorted items that could have been handled by the county administrator, if they would let him.
Most troubling is the series of private personnel meetings that Commissioners Brenda Hutchinson and Stacy Dugan have held with county employees. Soon after taking office in January, they planned a private session with employees, but scrapped the idea after being told that such sessions violated the state's open meeting law.
What evolved are meetings at which Hutchinson and Dugan meet as individuals with the commission's staff. This, of course, raises all sorts of questions since the other commissioners don't know what is said. Plus, there are no doubt mixed signals being sent to employees, who have every right to be confused by some of the changes going on.
Commissioner Tommy Swaim has complained they are micromanaging the staff, and he's right. The commissioners would do better to stick to the duties outlined for them in the State Code, most of which pertain to budgets, taxes and the assorted local powers given them by the Legislature, such as regulating development.
If a personnel session is needed, employees should be called to a commission meeting where everyone can hear what is said. The other way is for the commissioners as a group to designate one member or the county administrator to talk to staff and give clear instructions about what is to be said.
The sooner the commissioners begin concentrating on issues that really matter to the public, the better.