Our View: Administrator change may be risky
Last night, the Green River City Council voted to change requirements in its city administrator job posting, opening the position to advertisement for another 10 days.
The change allows applicants who may have equivalent experience in the private sector the opportunity to apply.
On one hand, it seems somewhat odd to make the description change now, after the initial application period ended. The move opens the job to people who have not been involved in municipal service, which may or may not backfire for the city if they hire someone applying as a result of the change.
Government, also known as “The People Business,” is a different beast than private business. Running a municipal government has challenges that aren’t present in private sector positions. There are statutes and rules a city administrator has to follow that an equivalent position in the private sector doesn’t. For example, knowledge about what a city can and cannot do legally is a definite benefit to the position. Without that knowledge, a situation similar to the illegal sewer line fix the city initiated for a household could happen again. We realize everyone involved was trying to do the right thing, but city officials involved with that action should have known better. A “my way or the highway” attitude that can be supported within the realms of private industry can’t be adopted as readily within local government.
However, management is management, regardless of where it occurs. A successful executive manager would already have the tools needed to work with employees. That sort of experience comes regardless of if the position is in the municipal setting or corporate setting.
We would hope that the city does look at candidates with municipal experience over private industry experience because of the differences between municipal government and private industry. A candidate with municipal experience, living within Green River, would be an ideal candidate in our opinion. Someone matching the requirements and living within the city would already be familiar with the city and how it operates.
Barring that kind of candidate, risking the hire of a local candidate with a lot private management experience could turn out to be a great choice for the city.
However, there is risk involved in bringing in someone who hasn’t worked in public service. Without some knowledge of how municipalities operate, hiring a applicant from the private sector could be disastrous for the city.