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A new county administrator?

Board revisits the position

Published: Friday, April 11, 2014 1:31 p.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, April 11, 2014 1:34 p.m. CDT

PRINCETON — The Bureau County Board will consider hiring another county administrator to run the day-to-day operations of the county.

At Thursday’s meeting, board member Steve Sondgeroth asked for the county administrator discussion to be put on the May board meeting agenda. A lot of board members are overloaded with work for their committees, he said.

Possibly the county board would want to establish an ad hoc search committee as a start, to look at how to get the needed money in the budget and when the county would want to hire someone, Sondgeroth said. After exploring the options, the board could always vote against going forward with hiring an administrator, he added.

With no further discussion, the board agreed to put the county administrator discussion on next month’s agenda.

If the board went forward with hiring a county administrator, it would be the second time the county has had such a position.

The Bureau County Board hired Austin Edmondson in December 2005, on a 19 to 6 vote, at a starting salary of $66,000 plus benefits. Edmondson resigned from the position about 15 months later, to accept a similar position in the Decatur-area town of Forsyth.

Then-Bureau County Board Chairman Marc Wilt said Edmondson helped the county board through the sale of the county farm and the pending sale of Prairie View Healthcare, and also did a lot of work on the successful public safety sales tax referendum. He steered the county through some very major projects, Wilt said.

After Edmondson’s resignation, the board defeated a motion, on a 16 no, 6 yes vote to hire another administrator at that time, based on the county’s finances.

In addition to the county administrator discussion, the county board will also discuss its Big Sky wind farm decommissioning plan at its May meeting.

At Thursday’s meeting, the board tabled a decision on whether to keep a cash escrow agreement with the new owners of the Big Sky wind farm, or to agree to the new owner’s request of a letter of credit for the decommissioning plan.

Bureau County State’s Attorney Patrick Herrmann said he had reached out for legal counsel from a Springfield law firm, but the firm was not able to return an opinion by Thursday’s board meeting. The board could wait for an opinion from the law firm or the board could decide to keep requiring a cash escrow or to accept to a letter of credit, Herrmann said.

Michael Speerschneider, representing the Pittsburgh-based EverPower Wind Co., addressed the board, saying the company’s purchase of Big Sky is going forward and closing on the property should be completed in May. The new owners would like the county board to agree to a letter of credit for the decommissioning plan, rather than keep the cash-on-hand arrangement in existence, Speerschneider said.

After lengthy discussion, the board agreed to table further discussion and a decision until its May board meeting.

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