As Pulaski County continues working to address its fiscal challenges, a group of residents thinks that hiring a county manager could be a potential solution. Group representative Courtney Poor read a prepared statement to the county council and commissioners during Monday’s joint session.
“Now, I realize that this is an added expense that nobody wants to talk about right now, but it appears that there are some counties that have implemented this type of position and have seen positive results,” Poor said. “Just as corporations utilize the position of CEO, a county manager might function in a similar fashion.” Poor noted that a manager could handle the day-to-day operations of the county and would report directly to the county commissioners.
A few of the county officials seemed open to the idea. Commissioner Mike McClure said that other than the salary, he could think of very few negatives, noting that the position could help the county get grants. Council Member Ken Boswell thought the idea warranted further investigation, adding that it had been discussed a number of years ago but was never implemented.
Poor also called on the council and commissioners to address a number of other issues related to the county’s finances, such as how to attract new residents and how to fill the revenue gap that will occur when the special income tax for the Justice Center ends next year. He also questioned whether the county could avoid a $2.7 million deficit that’s expected to develop over the coming years by cost-cutting alone. “I understand that tax increases are found to be distasteful to most elected officials, but it would seem that such thought processes are at least partially responsible for our present dilemma,” Poor said. “What county services are being considered to be curtailed or eliminated, and what tax increases have been discussed to help balance the county budget?”
Fiscal planning consultant Jeffrey Peters has noted that the county cannot replace the expiring Justice Center income tax without action from state lawmakers. Poor said he’s convinced that the county will need legislative help. He asked the county officials what steps are being taken to choose a path that can be presented to the state senator and representative.
Poor also suggested that taxpayers be given the chance to ask Peters directly about the county’s potential options. Council Member Boswell said a good opportunity may be during the upcoming budget hearings. He said he’s invited Peters to attend the hearing on Monday, August 26.