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County to re-establish community relations role

Members of the Washington County Budget Committee will recommend to the full commission funding the position now referred to as Director of Community Relations and Special Projects.
The position, previously called Communiations Director, had been held by Jeff Keeling.
Keeling resigned from the role after the commission voted earlier this year to eliminate funding for the position, one that Mayor Dan Eldridge created when he came into office in September 2010.
The move caused dissention among Eldridge and commission members, who disagreed as to who should determine whether the position should exist, how much the person should be paid and what the job description should be.
“If you have any feedback, I would welcome it,” Eldridge said during the Nov. 16 meeting. “As for me personally, I’m at a loss.”
Commissioner Mark Larkey said he thinks the committee needs to allow the mayor the flexibility he needs to go up to the $48,000 proposed salary figure.
Commissioner Greg Matherly said a director of community relations is a sensitive position in that the employee reports to an elected mayor.
“You’re working toward that next election a lot of times,” he said. “If (Eldridge) decides in three years he doesn’t want to run, the new mayor may want his own person.”
Matherly said asking someone to come to work for what could be only a three-year tenure is another justification for the salary level.
Commissioner Joe Grandy made a motion to recommend $48,000 be put back in the county budget and flexibility be given to Eldridge to go up to that number in hiring.
Larkey seconded the motion, which passed unanimously.