Merrill remains interim Hillsborough administrator but gets one-year contract
A proposal from Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan to make Mike Merrill the full-time county administrator failed to win across-the-board support from his fellow board members Wednesday morning.
Instead, they voted unanimously to keep Merrill on as the interim county administrator but to give him a one-year contract. Merrill was named acting administrator in March after commissioners suspended former County Administrator Pat Bean. He was made interim administrator in June when Bean was fired.
Commissioners were uniformly complimentary of the work Merrill has done throughout his nearly 23 years with the county, and particularly since he was put in charge of county government this year. Some, though, notably Kevin Beckner and newcomer Victor Crist, insisted on a national search to fill the position permanently, while saying they felt Merrill would be a strong contender. The need for transparency to the public far outweighed the potential cost of that search, they argued.
Other commissioners, notably Hagan and newcomer Sandy Murman, argued that conducting a search would be a lengthy distraction, particularly as Merrill works on substantive downsizing and reorganization of county government. The resulting solution, keeping him on as interim but giving him some security moving forward, emerged as a compromise.
Chairman Al Higginbotham will negotiate terms of the contract, which could include a modest raise. Terms will have to come back to the board.
Merrill, who has not campaigned for the job, said he was satisfied with the outcome of Wednesday's discussion.