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Commissioners accept Murphy's resignation

It was business as usual at the beginning of the Beltrami County Board meeting Tuesday afternoon as Commissioner Joe Vene, left, discussed the agenda with Administrator Tony Murphy, right, but there was a much more somber tone later when the board approved Murphy's resignation. Commissioner Quentin Fairbanks is in the center. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer

BEMIDJI - Beltrami County commissioners on Tuesday accepted the resignation of Tony Murphy and took its first steps in an expected half-year process to replace the outgoing county administrator.

"I would have to say that we've done some very good things over the past 10 and a half years," Commissioner Jack Frost said of Murphy's tenure. "It's been an exceptional decade, if you will, for Beltrami County."

"All you have to do is look around and look at the accomplishments that have been done," said Commissioner Quentin Fairbanks.

The Beltrami County Board voted to install Kay Mack, county auditor/treasurer, as interim administrator effective May 1, when Murphy will vacate his office.

It is a position Mack served once before. After the county's first administrator, Greg Lewis, left his office after eight years, Mack served in an interim basis until Murphy took over more than a decade ago.

The county board also voted to direct Linda Tran, human resource director, to compile information in the next two weeks and start the discussion on the method that should be used to fill the administrator position.

Commissioner Jim Lucachick said he believes the public sector needs to become more similar to the private sector and noted that in those businesses it is not atypical for them to bring in new CEOs every seven to 10 years.

He said Murphy was leading the county well into that direction, focusing on outcome-based solutions and strategy alignment.

"I believe that, in general, Beltrami County will continue to pursue outcome-based solutions, because I think all government is going to have get leaner, is going to have to run smarter," he said. "I wish you well, Tony, and I know you will do well."

Murphy submitted his resignation on March 29, stating that he is considering other employment options. He declined, following the board meeting, to expand on those options.

"Tony's been a good friend in government because we both held both city and county positions. We could empathize well back and forth," John Chattin, Bemidji city manager, told the Pioneer Tuesday. "Tony is an ... incredibly talented individual."

Lucachick said during the county board meeting that he expects the process to replace Murphy could take six months. Other commissioners noted the possible involvement of a headhunting or consulting firm.

"A half a year doesn't seem to be out of the question," Lucachick said. "By fall we should have a new administrator in place."

He noted that the county has a two-year budget in place and department heads will be able to handle well the day-to-day business of the county.

"Tony does leave big shoes to be filled," said Commissioner Richard Anderson. "But I do believe that all of us can be replaced and new energy and new talent will emerge."

Parks and surveys

In other business, Lucachick announced that Three Island Park has achieved inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places.

The board also voted 4-1, with Frost opposed, to not conduct a citizen survey until 2013 and instead use feedback generated by the new county newsletter to gauge residents' feelings.