ELIZABETHTOWN — The Bladen County Board of Commissioners met on Monday afternoon for a presentation from Lumber River Council of Governments representatives Jan Maynor and Jim Perry.
The first order of business was to approve a set Community Development Block Grant documents.
Next, the commissioners heard a presentation regarding the role and responsibilities of the members of the Bladen County Board of Commissioners and staff.
They opened the presentations by first with a creating a list of questions the board members had. Then Maynor moved to an exercise to demonstrate how differently people hear and interpret things. The exercise required following a set of paper folding instructions and using a set of scissors to cut the paper at various points.
Maynor told the board it is their job to determine the mission of the county and the manager’s role is to carry out the policies.
Maynor told the board that the commissioner-manager concept is still fairly novel. Robeson County hired its first county manager in 1929.
She explained that the idea of a county manager came about as a way to combat corrupt politicians trying to implement policies that were favorable to them or their friends.
Maynor noted that when the power of recall was introduced it changed the scheme of things.
“You had corrupt leaders being called back by the voters,” said Maynor.
She told the board that the county manager does serve at the leisure of the board and the manager has the authority to appoint or remove department heads. Maynor told the board they should a manager based on his capabilities.
Maynor told the board that the manager’s role is also to function as the organizer of the county.
“You’re elected officials full-time. It is not your job to be the organizer of the county,” said Maynor.
The manager also serves as the advisor to the board. Maynor said the manager researches topics that are relevant to the issues facing the board and brings that information to the board’s attention.
“There is no way for you to know all that is going on. He is the person you want to look to because he knows what is going on,” said Maynor.
She added that is important that the commissioners understand their role fully.
Maynor also talked the chairman’s role. She told the board the chairman has no veto power, no executive authority, he does have a legal responsibility to vote and is the chief elected official. Maynor said he also leads the meetings and he does have the power to declare a state of emergency when it is warranted.
Maynor said the chairman is also tasked with the authority to call a special meeting when he feels it necessary.
“He’s your leader. He’s your coach,” said Maynor.
She said the role of the commissioners is to represent the constituency.
“You act as one body and remember that by yourself, you have no power,”said Maynor.
She also admonished that the board should be willing to take ownership of its decisions and defend the staff members when they are criticized for carrying the policies set by the board.
Cogdell pointed out that the Bladen County Board of Education has written policies for the board members. Commissioner Delilah Blanks asked Cogdell to obtain a copy for the board to study.
Commissioners Russell Priest and Jimmie Smith were excused from the meeting, according to Charles Ray Peterson.
—Erin Smith can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.