Commissioner Tardif refuses county hires, calls for review
Columbia County Commissioner Alex Tardif is months into a freeze on approving new hires at the county amid concerns about the county's financial future.
With only two votes needed to initiate the hiring process, Tardif's stance has been outweighed by yes-votes from Commissioners Margaret Magruder and Henry Heimuller.
"I am concerned about the sustainability of our county and our finances, and cannot move forward approving filling any positions until we do an organizational assessment and a needs assessment to understand where we're at and create a sustainability plan to move us forward," Tardif said at a Sept. 18 commission meeting.
At that meeting, the commission authorized District Attorney Jeff Auxier to hire a department secretary and authorized Land Development Services Director Karen Schminke to hire an office manager.
Tardif said the county has 16 outstanding positions to fill and has filled 13 since the start of the year.
The positions up for vote have been both new and existing positions that were included in the current budget, which went into effect July 1.
Those have included positions where a former employee has retired or otherwise left their position.
Tardif, formerly a tax accountant, said he decided to stop approving new hires after he saw information about the county's finances that caused concern. The finances paint a bleak picture of the county's stability in the coming years, Tardif said.
Though Tardif has not approved any new hires, he has voted in favor of funding for other initiatives, including a $10,000 grant for the county's tourism initiative earlier this month.
As of publication of this story, Tardif had not answered questions regarding if he had proposed any organizational assessment or provided more details on the county's finances.
Magruder noted in an email Friday morning that the commissioners have not had formal discussions about initiating an organizational assessment, though she intimated she is open to the idea.
"There has been no formal discussion, by the Board, regarding an organizational assessment, nor has one been proposed. It would certainly be a subject worthy of discussion," she wrote.
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