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Our View: Right decision, wrong timing for county
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The five-year infusion of property tax dollars voters gave Green County government earlier this month is a short-term solution to the funding problem at Pleasant View Nursing Home. The longer-term solution must include improved efficiencies in facility operations - finding ways to reduce expenses and add revenue.

Creating long-term solutions will require effective management at Pleasant View. That's why the Green County Board of Supervisors is wise to give itself the financial flexibility to attract the right person for the job.

Supervisors on Tuesday passed a resolution that increases the pay range for the vacant administrator position.

Former Administrator Don Stoor received about $86,000 a year. He was on paid leave due to health issues for several months before resigning about two weeks ago. The county has had interim management in the meantime. The current interim administrator, Terry Nelson, is a consultant working on contract with the county.

Nelson, in her short time at Pleasant View, has pointed out some steps the county can take to operate the nursing home more efficiently. One step, she said, is to hire nurses rather than contracting with agencies. She also believes changing some of its documenting procedures can lead to increased federal dollars.

In short, there are operations efficiencies to be found.

The board's belief is that the person to find and implement those efficiencies might command a higher salary than $86,000 a year. So supervisors approved an annual salary range for the position of $84,240 to $105,643. Board Chairman Art Carter said the range proposed by the board's Pleasant View Nursing Home Committee is in line with the salaries of other nursing home administrators in the area.

Whether hiring the right administrator for Pleasant View will require a $100,000-plus salary remains to be seen. Hopefully, it does not. The lower the salary, the better for taxpayers. But having the ability to pay more gives the county greater latitude in finding the best person for the job. Just as a good city administrator should pay for itself and more through effective leadership of operations, the savings in efficiencies at Pleasant View should more than make up for any additional salary.

The timing of the board's vote, however, is unfortunate. One of four supervisors to vote against the resolution, Joe Cousin, remarked Tuesday about the pay raise coming weeks after the Pleasant View referendum passed.

"I went out on a limb to get the referendum passed," Cousin said. "If I vote for this, I'll need a sheriff's escort to get back into Albany."

That sentiment is understandable. Citizens have a right to be irritated by the board moving forward with a pay raise in its first meeting after successfully asking for more property tax dollars. It would have been better had the board made this decision on the administrator's salary prior to the Oct. 6 referendum, and been open about it with the public.

Still, the unfortunate appearance given by the timing does not negate that it is the right decision. Now, the county board must be diligent in finding the right person at the most reasonable salary to make it so that Pleasant View no longer will require additional tax dollars to operate.