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Decision on revised position delayed for another month

A decision on the budget amendment providing funds for the renamed Director of Community Relations and Special Projects position was delayed for another month when commissioners referred it back to the Budget Committee for more revisions.
Mayor Dan Eldridge introduced the resolution during the Oct. 31 meeting, indicating a revised job description had been distributed and the $48,000 salary would come from the General Fund.
“The two big differences are any communication with the media has been eliminated, and a couple of specific areas to interact with the chair on the preparation of the (commission) packets have been added,” Eldridge said.
Commissioner Ethan Flynn said he has a huge issue with a compensation package that could be valued at almost $75,000 with benefits when everyone else is tightening their belts.
“I can’t vote for it,” Flynn said.
Commissioner Doyle Cloyd said he thinks the mayor needs the assistance, but the county has tried to keep salary levels in line in the past.
“I have an issue with starting someone at $48,000 coming in when some employees have been here for 35 years and are still under $41,000,” Cloyd said.
Eldridge said the salary level needs to be competitive in the marketplace, which includes the private sector.
“If we can hire someone for less, we will,” he said.
“We are not comparing or trying to create an issue with any other employees in the county.”
Commissioner Mark Ferguson said he supports the position but also has an issue with the starting salary. In addition, he did not like receiving a new job description during the meeting.
“We talk about transparency. Folks, this is not transparent,” he said. “We should have had this in the packet.”
Chairman Greg Matherly said he was responsible for the delay.
“The reason it was handed out today is because the mayor and I have been working on it,” he said.
Commissioner Lee Chase asked about the items in the job description that indicate the employee could attend certain meetings on the mayor’s behalf.
“Are these honorary and non-voting roles?” Chase asked, to which Eldridge answered yes.
Corso said he thinks the changes represent a significant step toward where the commission wants to be.
“I want to see the mayor’s office develop, and we need to allow him to build a professional staff,” he said.
“But we need the specifics on what meetings this employee will be allowed to sit in on for the mayor, and I agree with Commissioner Ferguson that we need more time.”
Commissioner Ken Lyon said he was glad the commissioners were giving such thoughtful discussion regarding the position. “I wish you’d done that before you fired Jeff (Keeling),” he said.
Flynn made a motion to send the resolution back to the Budget Committee for more consideration, and Chase seconded.
Corso said the salary and job description should be considered. “Maybe we want to only require three years of experience rather than six,” he said.