Hernando County Administrator Leonard Sossamon has been serving as both the County Administrator and the Economic Development Director. The county is considering freeing up Mr. Sossamon through hiring a full time Economic Development Director and/or a Deputy County Administrator. Commissioners praised Sossamon for the work he has done on economic development. However, it took some time to iron out how to proceed with the proposed hirings.
The county put forth engagement letters to hire a recruiting firm, Colin Baenziger & Associates, the company who recruited Leonard Sossamon for County Administrator. The cost associated with hiring the firm to do the recruitment would be $25,500 to recruit the Deputy County Administrator and $23,000 to recruit a full time economic development director.
Commissioner Champion felt that recruitment for a Deputy County Administrator could potentially be done in house and did not feel they could spend the money due to budgetary constraints. “I don’t want to pay to advertise for the deputy administrator. I think we have some talent internally,” he said.
Commissioners Allocco and Mitten felt that a full time Economic Development Director is needed and nationwide recruitment for the position is necessary. Commissioner Allocco did not feel that the deputy County Administrator position would be needed if there was a full time Economic Development Director.
“I think we are doing a disservice to the county administrator and to the taxpayers by asking him to complete two full time jobs at the same time,” said Commissioner Mitten.
“To be fair to him and to the taxpayers, we need to invest in a full time economic development director.”
Mitten said that it would be an either/or situation, either investing in a full time economic development director or a deputy county administrator.
Commissioner Dukes felt that they needed a Deputy Assistant County Administrator, but didn’t feel comfortable recruiting an economic development director until they know they have the money to spend.
Champion disagreed with the either/or scenario. He felt that the Deputy County Administrator position is crucial to streamline the operations of the county.
“My desire is to invest in economic development. To get wealth into Hernando County. If we can do that one way or another, that’s my desire,” said Commissioner Mitten.
Towards the end of the discussion, Commissioner Nicholson stated that he would be in favor of advertising in house for both positions.
Champion made a motion to advertise for a deputy county administrator internally across departments and hold off on economic development director until October- after the budget season.
The motion passed 4 - 1 with Commissioner Allocco voting against it.