Cass County commissioners look to make changes

CASSOPOLIS — During Thursday’s committee of the whole meeting, the Cass County board of commissioners discussed potential changes for board meeting procedures, as well as changes to the position of county administrator. The potential changes are what board chair Robert Benjamin described as “routine checkpoints” as the new board convenes in 2019.

Benjamin is the newest member to the county commission, but has experience as the supervisor for Milton Township. With the start of the new year, a new board and a new chairperson and a new county administrator, Benjamin believes it is the responsibility of the board to assess positions and procedures and decide if changes are to be made.

“Part of the function of a new board is to together take a review of how things are going and how things work,” Benjamin said. “Everybody has copy of the rules and can make changes and recommendations.”

The board will make recommendations for procedural changes in meetings in February. Benjamin said one example of a helpful change would be to give the COW the ability to bring agenda items and changes forward in the meetings immediately prior to regular commissioner meetings, as opposed to waiting until the next regular commissioner meeting. The expedited process, he believes, would keep momentum going on items and topics discussed in COW meetings.

“The committee of the whole is where the board really discusses things,” he said.

The example from Benjamin is only one among any number of minor procedural changes the board could move to approve in February.

Moving forward, the board is also looking into possible changes to the position of county administrator, a role formerly filled by Karen Folks. Angie Steinman is filling the role in an interim capacity, but the board will be assessing potential changes to the role before beginning the hiring process for a new administrator. Benjamin noted the problematic work environment across departments in regard to the previous administrative role, which he described as “toxic.”

“I would like to have someone that works from a team approach with the different departments,” Benjamin said.

Transparency in the role of administrator is also something the commission will be emphasizing during and prior to the hiring process. Commissioners have also addressed transparency. For the first time, full commissioner packets were published on the county website, something Benjamin sees as a necessary step in the right direction for the board.

For more information, readers can visit casscountymi.org/boardofcommissioners to read agendas, packets and minutes from commissioner meetings.

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