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County administrator David Hamilton prioritizes projects for his last two months

BROOKSVILLE — Departing Hernando County Administrator David Hamilton has identified two dozen priority projects in a transition plan he will present to the County Commission on Tuesday.

The only question is whether Hamilton's hope to work for the next two months to get those projects on track will be fulfilled or whether his employment will end during Tuesday's commission meeting.

On Wednesday, in an e-mail to commission Chairman Jim Adkins that was copied to all county employees, Commissioner Jeff Stabins, a longtime critic of Hamilton, called for his immediate firing after an attorney representing the administrator requested his full severance package, totaling nearly $90,000, after he completes the next two months.

The county attorney's office, in reviewing the request from Hamilton's lawyer, determined that commissioners have three choices Tuesday: Accept the offer made by Hamilton's attorney, make a counteroffer or take up Commissioner John Druzbick's original motion from Oct. 25 and terminate Hamilton immediately, according to a memo released Thursday.

That motion was tabled after Hamilton offered to leave after Dec. 31.

Hamilton makes his pitch for staying in the form of a lengthy memo that serves as his strategic transition plan, which was released Thursday in the commission's agenda packet.

Allowing him to stay in place until the end of the year would allow Hamilton "the opportunity to manage several ongoing projects while working with staff to initiate strategic projects that will be beneficial to Hernando County in the future,'' Hamilton wrote.

"In short, the next two months would be focused on ensuring that the next administrator is presented with a game plan containing ongoing accomplishments that would keep Hernando County and the county board moving forward,'' according to the memo.

Hamilton explains that his list of priorities includes projects that are on tap immediately and others that should be started, and he acknowledges that two months is not much time to get things rolling.

One of Hamilton's main focuses would be to work with newly chosen members of the county leadership team on day-to-day issues.

He invites the leadership team, county commissioners and the county attorney's office to add their input on the list of projects and concepts to be discussed.

"In this way, we will not only be working on the individual projects listed below, we will more importantly be developing a Hernando County Strategic Plan with buy-in from key administrative and political levels,'' he wrote.

Hamilton's priority list includes projects such as completing the Hernando Beach Channel dredge, merging Spring Hill and Hernando County fire-rescue functions, continuing work on infrastructure projects in south Brooksville, solving the vexing problem of lime rock road maintenance and implementing the new garbage franchise agreement on Jan. 1.

Ongoing budget issues, aggravated by declining property values, are the focus of many of the priority tasks, including creating a more uniform health insurance plan for county employees, creating a comprehensive pay plan for employees and solving salary inequities among employee groups.

Ten of the projects on Hamilton's list are issues related to the county's elected constitutional officers. They include jail renovations and long-term funding for the jail for the sheriff, budget forecasts for the clerk of the circuit court and a permanent storage facility for the supervisor of elections.

Hamilton, 62, came to Hernando County in March 2008 and earns a salary of $135,000 a year.

Commissioners are also expected to discuss steps to choose Hamilton's replacement during Tuesday's meeting.

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at behrendt@sptimes.com or (352) 848-1434.

County administrator David Hamilton prioritizes projects for his last two months 11/03/11 [Last modified: Thursday, November 3, 2011 7:36pm]
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