To The Daily Sun,
Thank you Dave Schwotzer for having the courage to speak the truth about the operation of our county government. You hit the nail right on the head saying they now have someone looking over their shoulder, and I think a lot more scrutiny is in order. I have done some digging of my own and have found out some interesting things.
Concerning the position of county administrator, I learned that not all counties are operated in the same manner. While they are all similar with the elected commissioners, there are three counties in New Hampshire — Rockingham, Carroll, and Sullivan — which do not have the position of county administrator. The various department heads report directly to the commissioners. It seems they have decided that this level of management is redundant and unnecessary.
The salary of our county administrator is in the neighborhood of $105,000 per year, plus perks and benefits and with those factored in this position cost the taxpayers around $150,000. We all remember last winter when this budget dispute was being discussed that Ms. Shackett's salary was cut $20,000 as a cost savings measure, but I recently found out that our commissioners have decided to restore her full salary after some changes were made in the nursing home to save some money. Those changes caused the nursing home to lose two highly skilled professionals on the nursing staff. Collectively these women had 50 years experience in geriatric nursing.
The salary for the position of county administrator is set commensurate with the requirements of the job description. It states "MINIMUM QUALIFICATIONS REQUIRED: Bachelor's Degree as specified in NH RSA 151-A5 from an accredited university and five years of progressively responsible experience or any combination of education, training and experience which provides the knowledge, skill and abilities required for the job."
As far as I could ascertain, Ms. Shackett has no advanced degree whatsoever, not even a 2-year degree in Underwater Basket Weaving, let alone anything relevant. As for her experience, as far as I could ascertain, she was assistant administrator for two towns prior to her being awarded the position of county administrator. In my opinion this all smacks of nepotism, cronyism, favoritism, whatever ism you want to call it — something smells.
I think an investigation is in order for ethics violations and misuse of taxpayers' funds. Also a committee should be formed to look into making some changes in how our county government is organized. If we need to make cuts it seems that we should make those cuts in the management staff not the nursing staff.
The county commissioners and the management like to pat themselves on the back and tout the good record of the nursing home but the truth is they had nothing to do with it. Like Dave said that was done by the hardworking staff of the facility, and they do it in a working environment that has been described to me as a pressure cooker, and despite poor management and bad decision making they carry on. Clearly changes need to be made.