Otsego County administrator steps down, citing health


Otsego County Administrator Josh Beams resigned abruptly from his position on Monday, May 16. He had been in the job for seven months.

The county notified employees of Beams’ departure in a brief email the next day, without mentioning him by name. “Effectively immediately, all duties previously assigned to the County Administrator shall now be directed to the Chair of the Board or his designee. Please let us know if there are any pending projects requiring immediate assistance,” read the message signed by County Board Chair David Bliss as well as the county personnel officer and the county attorney.

In an email to colleagues and county board representatives, Beams attributed his decision to health reasons. “For medical reasons I am resigning my position as County Administrator effective two weeks from today with today being my last day in the office. Going forward I need to focus on my health for my young family’s sake,” he wrote.

Bliss, R-Cherry Valley, Middlefield, Roseboom, said he first learned about Beams’ decision when Beams called him on May 16.

“We certainly wish him well in his personal life and his career in the future. No hard feelings, you know, with the county at all,” Bliss said. “We didn't leave on bad terms, I guess, is basically the bottom line.”

Bliss discussed the situation during a telephone interview May 19. The county will again advertise the county administrator position and start a new job search in the near future, he said. Depending on the timetable, the county may find an interim administrator to serve during the search.

There are several county staff members who could serve as interim administrators, including County Treasurer Allen Ruffles, he said. Ruffles was a top finalist for the administrator position when Beams was hired in 2021.

Rep. Andrew Marietta, D-Otsego, said he was disappointed to see Beams go. Beams had spoken previously about making a five-year commitment to the job, “so it would have taken something significant for him to resign,” he said.

Beams demonstrated the importance of having a full-time county administrator, according to Marietta, who said Beams helped county business to stay on track in a way that county representatives cannot, since most committees only meet once per month.

There are many long-term problems with county government that need addressing, Marietta said, including fixing the county jail, staff retention, improving interdepartmental communication and updating the county’s strategic plan. Beams was instrumental in making progress for the county on those tasks, he said.

“It's hard to point at something and say, you know, after eight months, here's the big win,” Marietta said. “To be successful, we need we need these positions filled.” If Beams had lasted a year, he said, there would have been more to show, he added.

Thirteen of 14 county representatives voted last year to create the county administrator position, and Marietta said he was hopeful they would make the same decision again today.

Mike Forster Rothbart, staff writer, can be reached at mforsterrothbart@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7213. Follow him at @DS_MikeFR on Twitter.

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