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Commissioners trying to finalize administrator’s job, duties

POSTED: December 30, 2013 6:17 p.m.

When Effingham County commissioners convene next Tuesday, they may resume deliberations on what the next county administrator will do.


Commissioners tabled at their Dec. 17 meeting a proposed updated job description for the county administrator. The job description was revamped after commissioners held a workshop with Dave Wills of the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia about the position and its classification.


Commission Chairman Wendall Kessler asked if the job description should be all-inclusive, so the only items to work out on a contract with a potential administrator included a possible severance package. County human resources director Rushe Hudzinski said the job description should be as succinct as possible.


“This represents specific job tasks,” she said of the draft.


According to the classification, the county administrator directs, plans and organizes the day-to-day operation of the county government and develops and implements county policies and procedures. The county administrator, the draft classification states, also works with the commissioners “to insure the efficient, effective governmental operations for the citizens of Effingham County.” The administrator also supervises department heads and the administrative staff and will serve as the chief administrative officer of the county.


Commissioner Reggie Loper said he had concerns with a couple of items in the reworked job classification. To him, it read as if they described the functions of a county manager and not a county administrator.


“There are some management pieces in there,” Hudzinski said. “If you want us to strike the management pieces, we can do that.”


Loper also said the language in the job description’s performance of duties calls for commissioners not to speak with county employees without the administrator’s knowledge, unless there is a formal inquiry or investigation under way.


“That tells me, if we want to talk to a county employee, we have to go through the administrator,” Loper said. “That has to be struck completely. I don’t agree with that.”


Interim county administrator Toss Allen said he didn’t believe it was the intent to prevent commissioners from communicating with county employees but rather that commissioners could not directly supervise county staff in its duties.


Kessler said he agrees that passage needs to be re-worded but also disagreed that it didn’t prevent commissioners from talking to employees, though it does bar them from issuing directions to county workers.


Commissioner Forrest Floyd said he liked to be able to call whoever he needed to, without going through the administrator, if a citizen passed along a concern or issue to him.


“We have to look at this from the perspective this is what we’re telling the administrator what we want him to do,” Commissioner Steve Mason said.


Loper also called into question how much power to hire and terminate employees the administrator will have. Allen asked commissioners to provide clarification on their intentions, inquiring if they wanted to hire and fire department heads or be advised of their hiring and firing.


“Do you want to vote to fire someone or do you want to be apprised of when someone is fired?” he asked.


Loper referred to an ACCG handbook that spelled out a potential county organizational chart, where the administrator supervises department heads appointed by the commissioners.


“Hiring is one thing,” said Commissioner Vera Jones, “and firing is another. I think, for the most part, we want to have input on the process for hiring at the department head level, that we have some input in the process.”


The county administrator is the only position that does not have the right to appeal a termination.


Loper also objected to language that said the administrator supervises the county clerk in the preparation of the commissioners meetings’ minutes and agendas, ordinances and regulations. The clerk, like the administrator, answers to the commissioners, he noted.


If the administrator is having a problem with the clerk in tasks they perform in conjunction, such as preparing the agendas, he should come to the commissioners, Loper said.


“He should not have any authority over the county clerk,” Loper said. “He can’t tell her what she’s got to do. The clerk does not work for the administrator. He can come to us and say he’s not getting nothing out of her.”


Loper added the administrator can assist the clerk in preparing agendas for meetings.


“I’m trying to figure out what kind of authority I have,” Kessler said.


The proposed job description also calls for the administrator to develop and maintain the county’s operating budget, oversee grant applications and administration of grant programs, develop and revise a five-year capital program each year and oversee development of such special projects as sales tax, community development and growth management plans.

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