MORGAN -- The Morgan County Council is consulting elected officials and department heads before writing a job description for a new council administrator and seeking someone to fill the position.
Garth Day submitted his resignation with 90 days' notice Aug. 4.
On Aug. 31, the council put Day on unpaid administrative leave amid allegations of financial improprieties, currently the subject of an ongoing investigation.
"Some of my worst nightmares came true with this position," said County Attorney Jann Farris, who opposed creating the position in 2008.
"When you give the title of administrator, that gives the (image) of authority."
Farris disagreed with giving Day purchasing agent and fleet-management responsibilities.
"As the purchasing agent, he had the authority to dispose of property, decide when it is surplus and how to get rid of it," Farris said. "That is a lot of authority, more than a secretarial position should have."
Some county officials are hesitant to replace Day so quickly.
"There might be some benefit of waiting until the investigation is concluded," said Sheriff Gene Ercanbrack, who noted that the state auditor is now involved in the investigation.
"(The investigation) points out what could have been prevented. It might have a difference on how to write a job description, to have checks and balances in place."
With four of the seven council members leaving after the November elections, a decision by a lame-duck council could be "setting a future council up with something they don't agree with," Farris said.
"The rush to fill this position is premature. The county didn't benefit that much from this position."
Treasurer Bonnie Thomson agrees, saying, "I wonder what the position did for the citizens and taxpayers."
The council created the position and hired Day to help strengthen day-to-day management of county affairs. Day's annual salary was $77,500, and he received $450 per month in transportation and cell phone allowances.
At the Tuesday work meeting, elected officials and department heads -- including the recorder, emergency services director, library director, treasurer and sheriff -- agreed they had very little contact with Day during his two years as council administrator.
"We just didn't know what his role was," said Recorder Brenda Nelson. "Some of us didn't feel comfortable talking to him because there was so much confusion."
Day's ambiguous job description and an organizational chart he helped create posed a challenge for county employees, said Clerk/Auditor Stacy Lafitte.
"Employees don't know who to report to," she said. "It created a huge void in the chain of command."
Of particular concern was Day's responsibility for both council administration and economic development.
"There seemed to be a lot of confusion in the job description, if he was council administrator or economic development director," Lafitte said. "It caused conflict for me."
Council members agree.
"It is a benefit to the council that the administrative supervision part is very clearly defined," said Councilwoman Karen Sunday. "Take economic development out (of the job description)."
At the council's Sept. 21 meeting, Day's portfolio assignments of fleet management, purchasing agent and economic development were redistributed to council members.
The move is one that could overtax council members' time, said Councilman Alvin Lundgren.
"As we have slid into our old role, it is clear our efforts are more fragmented, that we don't have a focal point for a full picture," he said.
"We saw some merit to the role of an administrator to assist the county council to deal with the multiplicity of issues."