The Norman Transcript

Opinion

November 6, 2013

More training for county officials

NORMAN — A state representative from Claremore thinks county officials need more training. Much of what they learn, Marty Quinn said, is acquired on the job. That could cost taxpayers, as county officials deal with millions of dollars of public funds.

Mr. Quinn will head up an interim study Nov. 12 at the state Capitol.

All of our elected officials routinely attend continuing education and maintain strong relations with their state organizations. But as county governments grow and become more professionalized, it might be time for lawmakers to look at more than just additional training and explore the benefits of a county-manager form of government in larger counties and possible consolidation between counties.

The three-district set-up in all 77 Oklahoma counties is an antiquated system established in the state’s early years.

Commissioners, who are full-time employees and earn more than $80,000 per year, have their own road crews, make their own equipment and materials purchase and have varied responsibilities for county property itself.

Imagine if each Norman city council member had their own road crews working in their wards.

Mr. Quinn said it would have been beneficial for him as an elected state representative to have some basic knowledge of the processes and procedures before he took office in 2010.

Currently most elected county officials are required to take a minimal amount of training, and testing is optional. The county assessor has seven courses they must take and pass. The county sheriff and his deputies must receive 80 hours of training to become CLEET-certified.

We hope the interim study also looks at the need for county officials to run on partisan ballots. Let them run like judges do each term, under no party affiliation.

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