The Porter County Council's quest to hire a budget and finance specialist is misguided. If the council is looking to add to the payroll, though, there's a more pressing need.
The council advertised the $40,000-a-year full-time budget and finance position, which includes health insurance benefits, and interviewed the five applicants at a closed-door meeting.
Council Vice President James Polarek said it was his understanding that the group had reached a consensus on the top candidate for the job.
A few days later, however, four council members came forward with a new applicant and held a closed-door interview with that person.
"It's not fair to the other applicants to open it back up for just one person," Polarek said.
Councilwoman Karen Conover said the extra candidate had been considered for a similar position in the past and should be granted an interview.
Councilman Jim Biggs said he doesn't know why the latest candidate didn't apply sooner, considering she has one paid position with the county and one under contract. She also ran for office before.
The council can and should ask for advice on budget priorities, both from the department heads and from the public. Does it really need to hire a financial adviser? How many consultants does the county really need?
Porter County Council members were elected to make difficult decisions. If they need help reading a budget, they should seek some schooling pronto. But why hire someone to advise them where spending cuts are necessary?
And if they want to add someone to the payroll, this flap over hiring a budget person shows the need for a human resources professional who could professionalize hiring and other employment issues for the county's workforce. Politics shouldn't cloud the hiring process.
Yes, the county faces tough budget decisions. But put the finance position on hold until the hiring process is straightened out.