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County must question why job isn’t filled

By all accounts, everything was ready for the new Adams County administrator to start work last week as planned.

County staffers had almost certainly spruced up the administrator’s office a bit.

Perhaps the little desk nameplate was already created and ready to announce the name of the new man sitting at the helm of the county’s daily operations.

Even the county’s website, adamscountyms.net, was updated to list Paul T. Rosson as the contact under the section explaining the county administrator’s role.

Yet, when Feb. 1 — the official start date — rolled around, Rosson was having cold feet.

Something, obviously, had him worried about relocating his family to Adams County since the supervisors voted to hire him on Jan. 4.

Officially, Rosson said it was the county’s inability — by law — to enter into an employment contract with him that drove his decision.

Having never met Rosson in person, my assessment of him is derived from news reports of his hiring process.

The guy seemed all about details.

He studied the community.

Rosson came for visits and he read as much as he could about the area.

He even contacted the newspaper to learn more about the community.

By the time he’d become a serious candidate, he had a plan for what he wanted to get accomplished here — and what he needed financially to make the job work for he and his family.

Rosson seemed fairly clear about what he sought, how he believed that he could justify the pay increase over what the previous county administrator was paid.

Three of the five supervisors apparently believed in him and voted to increase the pay being offered. Supervisors Henry Watts and Spanky Felter voted against increasing the salary.

That lack of full board confidence apparently was weighing on Rosson’s mind.

Watts and Felter said they voted against the increase because the salary was too high compared to the income of an average county resident.

That’s a nice thought and it might win some popular vote, but the logic isn’t sound.

The average county resident isn’t responsible for creating a $22 million budget or running the daily operations of the county.

Voters often can be confused by the notion that the supervisors are the most important positions in the county. The reality is that, perhaps second only to the sheriff, the county administrator is an extremely important position, worthy of better-than-average pay.

The administrator helps set the budget, advises supervisors on tax levy issues and is generally the chief operating officer of the county.

Somehow, though, in the public psyche, it seems the position has been relegated to that of the county’s bookkeeper.

That’s a mistake.

The position is critically important to the county — regardless of how one feels politically.

Supervisors — and ultimately voters — must ask, “Why does the county struggle to keep an administrator?”

Could it be a lack of trust?

Rosson obviously didn’t trust all the members of the board. As he said, “At anytime if you make any three (supervisors) very upset they can call a meeting and have you dismissed.”

Rosson knew going in that he had two strikes against him, strikes that were based on the idea of his core dollar value compared to an arbitrary average, not his individual performance.

Who can blame him for being overly concerned and having cold feet?

Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3539 or kevin.cooper@natchezdemocrat.com.

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