EDITORIAL: When personnel issues and transparency collide

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Transparency is key when it comes to taxpayer dollars.

Taxpayers should have the ability to know how their money is being used and this includes the people who are mostly or partially funded by it. This concern has come to the surface lately following the firing of Bill Hansel, Washington County Highway Superintendent. His termination followed a closed session during the Dec. 20 Board of Supervisors meeting. No information or reason to Hansel's termination was shared outside of the closed session and very little little has been said since.

Personnel issues are tricky, we understand that. They lend themselves to the privacy of the individual and the entity. It's a sensitive subject because firing an employee is emotional, it can have legal repercussions and it is largely a private matter.

But in some cases, the public also deserves to know at least some information, especially when it involves someone, who is paid by tax dollars and whose department spends tax dollars, who was deemed unfit to continue to serve. The public isn't asking for every detail but is are asking for an explanation why someone is no longer serving given they were trusted to serve the taxpaying public.

Again, we understand not all information in cases like this can be shared but when information is kept behind close doors, questions begin to get asked and speculation can run rampant. When an issue is left to people to draw their own conclusions, it's hard to know where the conversation will head.

Entities that represent and serve taxpayers should consider both sides of the aisle when it comes to personnel issues. It's important to be mindful to the personal and legal ramifications of the hiring and firing processes, but it's also important to not have the taxpayers feel like they are being left in the dark.

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