This past Tuesday, Washington County Commissioner Paul Swartz broke through the wall of silence the county board has erected to conceal details of a department head's retirement package. Swartz, who said he'll try to reveal details later this week, deserves county citizens' thanks for his courage and candor.
In his statement, Swartz said that John Howard, the director of the county's Economic Development Commission who retired June 11, received an amount of money based on his accrued sick leave and vacation time. And Swartz said, Howard may have received severance pay.
Swartz promised to try to figure out the total amount Howard was paid and release it later this week. Some details might still have to remain secret, however, Swartz said, because they're confidential for personnel reasons.
We understand that certain parts of any employee's file - evaluations and other items that relate to performance on the job - are confidential matters. But when it comes to compensation, that's a different matter. The taxpayers provide the money and they should have the right to know how it's spent without having to go to court.