County commissioners to select leaders for 2015-16

By Tony Wittkowski | City Reporter | The Times Herald

The chairman and vice chairman of the St. Clair County Board of Commissioners will be selected Thursday night.

Jeff Bohm has served as the chairman for the past four years. Steve Simasko has served as vice chair over the same period of years.

“I don’t plan on going anywhere,” Bohm said when asked if he wishes to return as chairman. “I want to continue the efforts of collaborating with all entities.”

The board chairman is responsible for running the public meetings, while the vice chairman handles the meetings in his absence.

Bohm said one of the main responsibilities that falls under the board chairman’s role is being the first point of contact for much of the decision-making countywide.

“It’s a busy position,” Bohm said. “The chair has to speak with other commissioners to keep them abreast of what’s going on. If I have a meeting with someone that is not in my level of expertise, I also put them in touch with someone who knows the subject of the conversation.”

The chosen chairman will then appoint the committee chairmen and a sergeant-at-arms. These committees include Ways and Means, Human Services, Judiciary and Public Safety, and Environmental and Public Works.

Since all of the committees have to tie back to county government in some way, County Administrator Bill Kauffman said it is important to have a commissioner as a representative.

“It’s expected that the commissioners will become a liaison to that committee and be the board expert in that area,” Kauffman said. “They will carry the board’s list of priorities to those groups and ensure those groups understand what the board’s priorities are. It’s important that that direct link be maintained.”

Commissioners will also be sworn in and take the oath of office during the first meeting of the year.

Second District County Commissioner Karl Tomion said the board will look at new business, which includes approving its bylaws for 2015-2016.

“There are some minor changes in the bylaws,” Tomion said. “There aren’t any major changes that I know of. We do constantly look to upgrade those and make some improvements if necessary.”

The board is expected to hold a short workshop to talk about its goals and priorities toward the end of the meeting.

“We did it four years ago when I first became board chairman,” Bohm said. “We are going to look back at what we had as priorities four years ago and see if we have made progress.”

Bohm said of those goals to be revisited from four years ago will be what improvements were made to the airport, the practices that were put in place for the landfill, the changes made to retiree health care and the increased general fund.

During the workshop, Bohm said he wishes to discuss the regional planning efforts for 2015 that could be made by Blue Meets Green in their next planning phase.

The workshop is a way to give the county administration what the board has in mind for the upcoming term and sets a path for what the county administrator can work on, Bohm said.

“If you don’t do that, then you have an administrator who goes out and works on an initiative that the board may not like,” he said. “It’s important that the board sets their priorities so the administration has fairly clear understanding of what they want to work on.”

Contact Tony Wittkowski at (810) 989-6270 or twittkowsk@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter @tonywittkowski.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Jan. 7, 2015)

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