Editorial: Ruppert's retirement begs for answersTuesday’s news that longtime Nobles County Administrator Mel Ruppert was retiring, effective immediately, leaves more questions than answers.
By: Daily Globe, Worthington Daily Globe
Tuesday’s news that longtime Nobles County Administrator Mel Ruppert was retiring, effective immediately, leaves more questions than answers.
A press release distributed prior to the start of Tuesday’s Nobles County Board of Commissioners meeting indicating Ruppert’s retirement stated, in part, that “while he (Ruppert) has always held the best interests of Nobles County at heart, after 32 years, the time has come where he would like to devote more time to his personal rather than professional life.” One nagging question, to which the answer may never be fully known, is whether Ruppert retired entirely on his own volition, or if county commissioners suggested he retire in the wake of a recent complaint he contributed to an adverse work environment. By no means are we making the conclusion that this is what transpired, but we have no doubt Nobles County taxpayers are wondering.
Those taxpayers have to be wondering, as well, exactly what Ruppert’s so-called “retirement” means. The press release stated Ruppert would be available to county commissioners on an as-needed basis during its leadership transition. Fair enough — but when the Daily Globe inquired as to what kind of severance package, if any, was given to Ruppert, it learned he would continue to collect his full salary and benefits for an unspecified period of time. Last we checked, that’s not how the word “retirement” is defined. This payment to Ruppert strongly suggests the retirement wasn’t necessarily the county administrator’s decision, while the “unspecified period” component suggests irresponsibility on the part of the county board and can only make us wonder how much this “retirement” is going to cost in the long run.
County commissioners voted 4-1 Tuesday — with Diane Thier the only one in opposition — to accept Ruppert’s retirement. Thier didn’t return calls from us for comment on her vote; Ruppert (who wasn’t at Tuesday’s meeting) didn’t get back to us, either. In the meantime, commissioners will begin to look for a new administrator and, according to board chair David Benson, “involve the department heads as much as possible. ... We could hire a new administrator, but I think we’ve been missing (department head) input for a long time.”
No matter how the news regarding Ruppert is dissected, many will no doubt agree that the county’s searching for a new leader is a positive development. We just hope the county doesn’t wait long in deciding how much, and how long, to fully compensate a man who is supposedly retired.