Responsibilities can vary for those in town administration roles in local communities, but an aspect of the position that is consistent is their importance in the municipalities, local officials said.
If a town council is handling all the daily functions of a municipality, it could lose sight of the "big picture" in the community, Cedar Lake Town Manager Ian Nicolini said.
Hiring a person to handle the day-to-day operations allows the council to focus on policymaking.
The Merrillville Town Council will discuss its town administration options this week, said Councilman Tom Goralczyk, chairman of the town's Personnel Policy and Employee Benefits Committee.
Former Merrillville Town Administrator Howard Fink recently resigned from the position to take a another job. Last week, Merrillville Public Works Director Bruce Spires was named the interim town administrator.
Some communities have town managers while others have town administrators.
St. John Town Manager Steve Kil said the town manager position is specifically defined in state code, but the responsibilities of a town administrator aren't.
Nicolini, who was Cedar Lake's town administrator before he became the community's town manager in September, said town council members could set the duties and responsibilities they would want a town administrator to have.
Nicolini took on the authority to hire and fire town employees when he became town manager. That was a council decision under the previous system, he said.
Merrillville Town Council President Carol Miano said she would be willing to give Spires the opportunity to work as the permanent town administrator while holding on to his public works director responsibilities.
"I have all the confidence in Bruce Spires," Miano said.
Combining the two positions also could help the town cut costs, she said.
Dyer Town Administrator Rick Eberly was the town's zoning administrator before he became the town administrator there, and he has retained some of the zoning responsibilities, he said.
"It can be challenging," Eberly said of wearing multiple hats.
Dyer is gradually transitioning zoning duties to another town employee so Eberly can focus on town administration, he said.
Merrillville Town Councilman Richard Hardaway said he wants the town to go back to the town manager position, and he wouldn't want the council to "micromanage" the person hired.
He thinks Merrillville would need to come up with a "good enough compensation package" to attract a quality candidate.
Fink had a salary around $52,000 each year, Merrillville Clerk-Treasurer Eugene Guernsey said.
Nicolini has an annual salary of $70,000 and Kil receives more than $90,000 each year.
Munster Town Manager Tom DeGiulio earns $126,000 per year under a new three-year employment agreement.
The agreement gives him raises in 2014 and 2015 following regular performance reviews.