Salt Lake County commissioners Tuesday scrapped a proposal to create a county chief administrator's post, but they want to evaluate other ideas that may increase productivity and allow delegation of daily administrative tasks.
Like a cat with nine lives, the administrator concept in various forms has kept popping up every few years since it was first proposed in 1977. And even now commissioners have left the door open for future reconsideration."I think it's safe to say we're not inclined to appoint a chief administrative officer," said Commissioner Bart Barker. "The concept is dead for the time being."
Commissioners seemed sold on the administrator concept in late December when they set up a committee of county managers to recommend how the post should be implemented. But the concept began losing momentum immediately. It died because of a lack of support from county elected officials and appointed administrators.
Commissioners are now looking at several proposals to accomplish the same productivity goals they hoped to achieve by appointment of an administrator.
They had liked the idea of turning their time-consuming daily executive duties over to an administrator, leaving them more time for policy making, strategic planning, intergovernmental relations and dealing with constituents.
The commission had also hoped to distance each commissioner from his portfolio - the county department he directly oversees - to ensure greater objectivity from each commissioner, especially at budget time.
Now commissioners are exploring the idea of creating a cabinet - made up of county department heads and the other county elected officials - to meet with commissioners and correlate the flow of information between the three departments and between elected officials and the departments.
The proposed weekly cabinet meetings would also help commissioners overcome their portfolio prejudices by making each familiar with operations in the departments he does not directly oversee, commissioners say.
Commissioners are also looking at a reorganization that would consolidate some current departmental operations into the commission office and perhaps create a fourth county department - tentatively called the Special Services Department - to direct county operations that don't fit in the existing Human Services, Public Works and Administrative Services departments.