After 18 months, $40,000 in search fees, two interims and one extra meeting, Escambia County finally has an administrator.
The Escambia County Commission voted 5-0 Thursday to offer the position to Taylor County Administrator Jack Brown, who was among the five finalists. He would succeed Randy Oliver, who was fired in September of 2012.
Since Oliver’s dismissal, the administrator post has been filled by the late George Touart, and then by Assistant Administrator Larry Newsome.
Appearing before the County Commission last month, Brown told the commission – which at times has been criticized as being too contentious – that an administrator’s job is helping the panel function smoothly.
“I would never embarrass my board in public, but I will give you honest feedback,” said Brown. “Part of the role of a county administrator is: you realize that you might have come across this way, maybe there’s a little bit better way you could do that. I don’t expect you to accept my opinion just because I’m telling you, but I think I owe that to you, to help be a sounding board to you.”
Calls to Brown have not been returned. He has served in a number of positions in Taylor County government, taking the administrator post in 2007.
Prior to the vote, Commissioner Wilson Robertson made one final push for Interim Administrator Larry Newsome, who did not apply for the permanent job. Robertson also submitted a substitute motion to drop all five candidates and start over. That was defeated on a 3-2 vote, with Robertson and Commissioner Gene Valentino voting in favor.
Commissioner Grover Robinson, who made the motion to hire Brown, said that after a year and a half, it’s time to move on.
“We’ve worked hard as commissioners to at least have one vote on them,” said Robinson. “If you don’t think that (Brown) is the person that should be the county administrator, don’t vote for them. But give us the opportunity at least to take these individuals and at least have a vote, up or down. What are we so afraid of?”
The commission plans to offer a one year contact with a three month severance package if he’s terminated. If and when Jack Brown formally accepts the offer, negotiations will begin immediately. The Escambia County Administrator’s position carries with it an annual salary in the $130,000 to the $150,000 range.