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County administrator resigns; for now, board plans to leave position open

DIXON – The county administrator gave her resignation to the Lee County Board this morning after saying she was being coerced into doing so for months.

Administrator Theresa Wittenauer, who was hired in 2016, will step down Dec. 13 and has accepted a job as a city manager in a town in the region, pending contract approval.

It has been challenging at times, because she took on numerous tasks and projects most administrators never would do, stepping in beyond the scope of her position while modernizing the administration, Wittenauer told the board.

Despite that, her position came under scrutiny because of budgetary concerns, and she has been coerced into giving a letter of resignation during the last few months, she said.

After the meeting, board Chairman John Nicholson said members were happy with Wittenauer's work, but they've been talking the last 3 months about whether the position is worth the cost.

"She will be missed along a lot of lines," Nicholson said.

The county also approved its annual budget, which included the administrator position and Wittenauer's $92,500 salary, but with her resignation, officials won't be looking to fill the position any time soon, he said.

"We want to step back and see what the benefits and negatives are," he said. "We have a pretty obvious need to watch our budget."

The county has talked about the need to generate more revenue during the last few years, mostly because of big drops in landfill revenue.

Before hiring Wittenauer, officials spent a year trying to find an administrator in three hiring searches. The position included overseeing human resources and budgetary operations, facilitating communication with county leadership and departments, and promoting economic development in the region.

Wittenauer, 42, of Amboy, was with the Blackhawk Hills Regional Council for a decade before joining the county; she was its economic development coordinator and then the agency's executive director for 5 or 6 years.

She enjoyed serving as administrator and said it gave her well-rounded experience, but she's looking forward to relocating to a "progressive, economically driven community." She declined to say which one, pending the finalization of her contract.

"I'm going to miss the people I worked with the closest," she said.

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