Youth position poorly planned

Poor planning inevitably produces a poor result. A case in point is Oak Harbor’s “youth services department,” created early this year by the City Council.

The idea was to improve the city’s services to youth, but the job description was muddy at best. The person hired to head the one-person department wasn’t to provide youth services herself, but was instead charged with coordinating the various public and private services presently available to make sure kids know everything there is to do in the community. She wasn’t given an office in City Hall, but was instead exiled to the public works building.

The person hired for the position, Jennifer Fuentes, is currently on paid administrative leave while the city looks into a controversy involving grant money. There are no allegations of intentional wrong-doing, it’s simply that some money might not have been doled out or taken in with the proper oversight. The fact that intentions were good but the execution was apparently faulty indicates insufficient city oversight of the department.

The city acted with good intentions in creating the youth services department, but from the onset some observers were scratching their heads over just what the position entailed. The City Council apparently had a bureaucrat in mind rather than someone who would wear gym shorts and lead kids in fun and games at Windjammer Park. Many taxpayers, no doubt, wondered if they were getting their money’s worth when this extra spending for youth translated into zero new activities for youth to participate in.

The city set aside approximately $75,000 for both this year and next for youth services, with the director receiving $40,000 to provide vague services to the city’s young people.

The city needs services for youth, but as executed this year taxpayers are not getting their money’s worth. It’s time to draw up a new job description for the youth services director and get her out there working one-on-one with the city’s youth the majority of the time. Otherwise, it’s more money spent with nothing concrete to show for it.

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