GLAD YOU ASKED: Davison officials can live in different county
Q: Jeff Bathke lives in Hanson County, but he’s now the emergency manager in Davison County. Don’t you have to live in the same county where you’re the emergency manager? If not, doesn’t that hinder your ability to respond to emergencies? Does he drive a county vehicle to work every day?
A: Tina Titze, assistant director of the state Office of Emergency Management, said the only regulation tied to each county’s emergency manager is stated in state codified law 34-48A-40. It says each local organization for emergency management shall have a director who shall be appointed by the executive officer or governing body of the county, and who shall have direct responsibility for the development and implementation of emergency and disaster plans, organization, administration and operation of all the local organization for emergency management, subject to the direction and control of the executive officer or governing body.
Davison County State’s Attorney Jim Miskimins said unless there is a specification in the code that requires the emergency manager to be a resident of a jurisdiction, then Bathke is not required to be a resident of Davison County. Miskimins added if there is no statute, it’s up to the discretion of the governing body who is hired for the position.
Bathke does not believe living in Hanson County hinders his ability to perform his new position, which he was appointed to by the Davison County commissioners in early October. Bathke said he drives a county vehicle to work each day, but said that’s because in case of an emergency, he needs to be able to respond.
“We did discuss this when we talked about me taking this position and with the planning and zoning position,” Bathke said. “But it is in the Davison County policy manual that you do not have to live in the county where you work, except for specific positions that are mandated by state law.
“I live three miles from the city limits. Technically, I could live in the far southwest corner of Davison County, which would put me 20 to 25 miles from the courthouse.”