Pending Ross departure prompts mixed reactions in Rock Island County

ROCK ISLAND -- Rock Island County Administrator Dave Ross says he's working out the details of a new job in Florida.  That will create a transition for county leadership.

Ross says that Stuart, Florida, population 16,000, is picking him to be its city manager.  While he hasn't accepted the job yet, Rock Island County will move forward to replace him.

Supporters credit Ross for instilling professionalism to controversial and dysfunctional county meetings.

"He came here as kind of a change agent," said Board Member Kai Swanson, on Tuesday, August 29.  "He's done remarkably great things for the county."

But others are put out by his two-year tenure and pending departure.

"He's pretty much tried to get out of here shortly after he got here," said Board Member Don Johnston.  "That's disappointing."

Ross tangled with a state financial crisis that ripped into everything from Oak Glen Nursing Home to Niabi Zoo, and even air conditioning repairs at the jail.

"When you're out of money, you're out of money," he said in July 2017.  "We've cut millions out of the budget.  We have nothing left."

Ross said Tuesday that he expects Rock Island County to continue to operate professionally after he leaves.  He expects to be on the job until October.

The county, which is moving closer to new budget talks, will take up his departure in mid-September.

"He's kind of a lame duck to us as this point," Johnston said, hinting at eliminating the position.  "I don't know that going back would be a negative at this point."

But Swanson says the situation should be a matter of principle, rather than personality.

"We were fortunate for the entrepreneurial spirit that he really brought here," Swanson said.  "He was ready to try new things."

Swanson adds that it will provide an opportunity for evaluation and long-range planning for the county.

"We should be thinking not just about the next three weeks, but the next three years, and probably, even the next three decades," he concluded.