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Council discusses planning position

Article Date: 
7 February, 2014 (All day)

In the last five years, Morgan County has employed four different individuals in its top planning spot.  Tired of the turnover and desiring top notch planning expertise, the Morgan County Council discussed Tuesday the open planning and development director position left vacant when Charlie Ewert accepted a planning position in Weber County last week.
Originally advertised on the county website as a planner paying between $19.52 to $21.70 an hour, the position is now being advertised as a planning and development director paying between $26.13 to $28.44 an hour.  Closing date for all applications is Feb. 20 at 6 p.m.
In a split 4-3 vote, the council decided to eliminate department head/personnel issues from the job description.
Councilman Robert Kilmer said the county definitely needed a good planner, and even a planning director.  However, he proposed appointing Jeremy Archibald, currently the IT department head, as the department head over the planning and development department as well.
“We need a really good planner that doesn’t need to waste their time on doing administrative things outside of planning,” Kilmer said.  “We have had multiple issues, personnel issues that may or may not have been taken care of.  The problem has never been solved.  It is never getting addressed.  There are ongoing things.  We are not setting policies and procedures in the best interest of the county.”
Administrative duties is a broad concept, one Councilwoman Tina Kelley would like defined during the council’s next meeting.  Kilmer said administrative duties would include budgeting and personnel issues, especially punitive sort of situations with fellow employees.
“We need hired professionals that can focus on their jobs and not worry about the administrative side of things,” Kilmer said.  “We need the very best person we can get to do planning.  We need to take the people manager off the planner’s plate so he can have a better relationship with the people in his department.  You can call him the planning director, just not the department head.”
Kelley said 30 percent of Ewert’s time was spent doing administrative things such as meeting with developers and banks.
“You need someone with a good planning background to coordinate those meetings,” she said.  “I don’t believe the IT director should do that.”
Kilmer also suggested moving the GIS department out of the planning and development department and putting it under the IT department.  
Council members Kelley and Lyle Nelson, as well Council Chairman Logan Wilde did not agree, casting a nay vote.  Four council members voted for the change.
“I am concerned with the direction we are going.  There are enough problems under the surface.  If we don’t have a qualified planning director, we are going to end ourselves in a lawsuit,” Nelson said.  
Kelley said before Ewert left the department, he suggested the council staff the planning and development department at 2008 levels, with two planners, 2.5 secretaries and two building inspectors.  Ewert definitely stressed hiring a second building inspector while presenting the department’s year-end performance measures.