Robert Sivick named new Whitfield County administrator, expected to start Friday

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Sep. 20—Robert Sivick is Whitfield County's latest county administrator.

The county Board of Commissioners voted 4-0 Monday to name Sivick the next administrator and approve a two-year contract that will pay him $145,000 a year. He is expected to start work Friday.

The commissioners named Sivick the sole finalist for county administrator on Sept. 6. Commissioners brought in 11 candidates for interviews, talking to some of them more than once.

"What made him stand out was the length and breadth of his experience," said Commissioner John Thomas. "He has served previously as a county administrator, and he has also served as city manager and city attorney."

Most recently Sivick served almost four years as county administrator of Waushara County, Wisconsin. Prior to that, he served as city manager of Willamina, Oregon; city attorney of Grand Island, Nebraska; village attorney of Greeley Center, Nebraska; and county attorney, county manager and personnel director of Howard County, Nebraska. He also served on the City Council of Omaha, Nebraska.

"We've got some big agreements coming up that we have to renegotiate," said Commissioner Greg Jones. "We've got the LOST (Local Option Sales Tax) and service delivery agreements coming up, and he's got experience in those kinds of negotiations."

The LOST is a 1% tax on most goods sold in the county. Every 10 years, following the U.S. census, the county and the cities within it must reach an agreement on how they will split the revenues from the LOST.

The service delivery agreements outline which services each government will provide and how they will be funded. They, too, must be renegotiated every 10 years.

Negotiations will start next year.

Board of Commissioners Chairman Jevin Jensen said the county had a full background check done on Sivick and interviewed "over 10" references.

"We really wanted to thoroughly vet anyone before we made an offer," he said. "We interviewed people he worked for, such as the county commission chairman. We interviewed people who worked under him. We also talked to peers of his."

Sivick has a bachelor's degree from the University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown in Pennsylvania and a law degree from Creighton University in Nebraska.

Former county administrator Mark Gibson stepped down in July to become chief operations officer for Whitfield County Schools. Gibson had been county administrator since January 2011. He was making $119,883.11 a year.

The county commissioners named County Engineer Kent Benson interim administrator. He was not a candidate for county administrator.

Commissioner Barry Robbins said he expects Sivick will have a quick start.

"He's got the management experience," he said. "He's used to working with elected officials. In his previous jobs, he has served on a number of different boards, so he should be able to start moving on things quickly."

Sivick said he and the commissioners share a similar vision.

"You can increase the quantity and quality of services while holding the line or even reducing the burden on taxpayers," he said. "That's not always the approach for local governments. In a lot of local governments, it's about maintaining the status quo and doing what you need to do to get by."

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