Commissioners were correct in putting their collective foot down when it comes to requiring key administrative personnel to live in Sampson County.
It may not be the most popular stance, but it’s one that needed to be put into place and, quite frankly, is one that should have been enforced long before now.
When it comes to the manager, the assistant manager, the finance officer and other department heads, it would seem like a no-brainer that they should live in the county they serve, but there was no such policy in place. Perhaps as county manager Ed Causey said it was seen as an unwritten rule, but where there are no teeth, and certainly nothing in writing, there is little enforcement power.
There is now with the county’s nod of approval earlier this week.
Being paid, and in many cases paid handsomely, by the citizens of Sampson County should be enough reason to have residency here, but beyond that, there are a plethora of other just-as-good points to enforcing such a rule among the county’s administrators.
Living here means you experience the same opportunities and challenges that residents face which, in turn, gives you a better perspective when citizens come to discuss either.
Being a resident here also allows county administrators the opportunity to give back to an area that is affording them their livelihood, attend church here, send their children to school here, shop here and participate in community activities here. In other words, being required to live here means you are part of Sampson County. Or, as commissioner Albert Kirby put it — Sampson County should have all of you.” With the policy in place, it will mean just that.
That the policy was strengthened by requiring residence here to mean “actual living quarters” only serves to make a good policy better, alleviating the wiggle room that has often given department heads and other administrators an out if they merely paid taxes here or were registered to vote in Sampson.
The language is such that it makes it impossible to circumvent the letter of the policy when staff merely buy a house here and pay taxes on it but still live in another county.
While most, if not all, our current county administrators already heed the unwritten rule, having a written policy in place ensures that future generations of staff will no upfront what must be done if they are to accept an administrative position in Sampson.
That, too, is a good thing, ensuring that everyone is on the same page from the beginning.
The residency policy is a good one, both for employees and for the county.