Sen. Harms pushing for option for County Manager form of governm - kotanow.com- Scottsbluff Area News, Sports, and Weather

Sen. Harms pushing for option for County Manager form of government

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Scottsbluff Senator John Harms has introduced a legislative resolution that would let voters have the option of adopting a county manager form of government.

The organizational structure of county governments could change under a proposed constitutional amendment heard by the  Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee earlier this week.

Senator Harms cited the existing city manager structure of government as the model for his proposal. Counties would benefit from having one central manager to ensure operations run smoothly, he said.

"Times have changed. County government today is truly big business and it needs to be treated as such," Harms said. "This gives citizens an opportunity to make government more transparent."

If the Legislature were to pass the constitutional amendment, the measure would be subject to voter approval. Then a bill outlining the specific procedures for implementing the new form of government would need to be passed.

Central City Administrator Chris Anderson, representing the International City/County Management Association, testified in support of the bill. He said a county manager would be a great fit for some counties.

"In cases where the system has great inefficiencies, this can be a very helpful option," he said. "County managers can provide management expertise in a nonpartisan manner."

League of Nebraska Municipalities representative Lynn Rex also testified in support of the bill, saying that the solution is not right for every county but the option should be offered.

"This is simply an option," Rex said. "This just gives citizens the opportunity to authorize the Legislature to consider it."

Douglas County Clerk Tom Cavanaugh testified in a neutral capacity. He agreed with the intent of the bill but said citizens should have the power to elect a county manager.

"County officials should be accountable to the citizens," he said. "They should be able to remove the person if they feel he's not performing."

No one testified in opposition to the bill and the committee took no immediate action on it.

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