ST. JOSEPH — The Berrien County administrator has a new report card for 2019.
The Board of Commissioners on Thursday reviewed an updated performance evaluation for Administrator Bill Wolf that they said spells out more specific goals.
Commissioner Bill Chickering, chairman of the Personnel and Human Resources Committee, said the old system of evaluating the administrator was “tedious and ineffective,” and did not provide clear expectations.
The goals set in the previous document were “generic,” Chickering said.
The revamped evaluation states that its purpose is “to provide the Administrator with feedback from the County Commission on his performance in all areas of his responsibility,” and to allow a dialogue between commissioners and the administrator “on ways to improve County services to our residents.”
The administrator is to be rated on a scale of zero to 50, on six major areas: leadership as a chief administrative and operations officer of the county; leadership as the chief financial officer; operational objectives for a countywide public transportation plan, a salary and policy survey, and study of road department policies; and administrator and board relations.
The leadership categories will each count for 30 percent of the evaluation, and the remaining categories will each be 10 percent.
Under leadership as the chief administrator and operations officer, Wolf is designated as the supervisor of county departments not under the direct supervision of elected officials. He also has oversight of human resources and employee relations.
Under leadership as the chief financial officer, the administrator has responsibility for “budgets, accounting, financial forecasting, auditing and capital projects,” as well as directing the requirements of “infrastructure and long-range facility and capital requirements.”
Chickering reminded commissioners that Wolf “is the CEO of a very large corporation.”
The countywide transportation plan is among two-year objectives approved by commissioners at the meeting. That transportation planning has been ongoing, and Wolf is tasked with presenting to commissioners by the end of the year the road map for expanding public transportation. That will be overseen by the Finance Committee.
The review of salaries and personnel policies also has been underway for several months. Chickering said Wolf and staff members will not just be collecting data, but will provide recommendations based on this information. This will be overseen by the Personnel Committee.
Chickering said the area of administrator and board relations is “critical” to “help Bill manage us and for we to manage him” in the best manner possible.
“Collegial relations on a group and individual level are important,” the evaluation form states.
The evaluation allows for “honest, thoughtful and constructive written comments” from commissioners, Chickering said.
The commissioners also adopted goals for 2019-2020.
Under the heading of providing a “safe and resilient county for employees and the public,” commissioners recommend adopting the principles of asset management, similar to the road department, in all departments where it would be appropriate. Asset management involves a review of property and deciding the most efficient way to maintain those assets.
Commissioners also urged providing additional financial support to speed up the road department’s 10-year plan for improving secondary roads. Road Department Director Jason Latham has set a goal of having all roads in good or fair shape by 2029.
Commissioners want staff and financial resources to be used to bring high-speed internet service to areas of the county where it is not available. Commissioners Teri Freehling and Ezra Scott have been studying this issue.
The objectives call on county staff to “improve private sector jobs and tax base,” and to work with partners to attract high-paying jobs. Commissioners also want to make Berrien County an “Employer of Choice” in the public sector through improvement of personnel policies, salaries and benefits.
Another goal is to establish Berrien County’s financial position in the top 25 percent of Michigan counties, through budgetary oversight and “long-range analysis of retirement obligations.”
Wolf said he couldn’t say where the county ranks financially without having specific criteria, adding that it is in the top 10 in some categories, such as taxable value.
The goals include encouraging greater cooperation between the county’s cities, villages and townships by using social media and other communication methods, and to continue to expand the use of social media to involve citizens in county activities and keep them informed.
Contact: jmatuszak@TheHP.com, 932-0360, Twitter: @HPMatuszak