Budget Cuts? Fire Your Planning Director

Benzie County, Michigan has canned their planning director in the name of budget cuts. County Commissioner Mary Pitcher said, "I believe that we can get considerably more bang for the buck if we contract for services."
September 26, 2008, 2pm PDT | Tim Halbur
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"[T]he dismissal of the county's longtime planner has outraged his supporters and raised concerns about the future of county planning and zoning. Some observers predict that the move will eventually backfire against county leaders by further straining already troubled relationships between Benzie County and townships currently served by the county's planning and zoning department. Last year, two townships, Inland and Homestead, pulled out of that service; the fear is that ousting such a well-known official will prompt more townships to jump ship.

"I think time will tell as to how it plays out, but these kinds of things undermine trust," said Kathy Ralston, the newly elected chairman of the county planning commission. "That's part of the reason why some of the townships have already left county zoning."

Furthermore, the Neiger ouster has fueled a string of other controversies, including a possible backlash against County Administrator Chuck Clarke and a handful of county commissioners, who critics contend mishandled Mr. Neiger's dismissal by using the budget cuts, instead of proper personnel management techniques, as a disingenuous way to get rid of the veteran planning director, instead of simply firing him."

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Published on Thursday, September 18, 2008 in Michigan Land Institute
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