BROOKSVILLE — County Administrator Len Sossamon, who celebrated his fifth anniversary with Hernando County last month — a long tenure, given the county's revolving door of administrators — has received his second-toughest evaluation to date from county commissioners.
Sossamon, 66, was in the cross hairs of a lot of political wrangling during last year's elections. And this week, the County Commission considered a nationwide search to find a new economic development director, a job he holds along with his duties as administrator. Commissioners opted to wait on the search and possibly revisit it later.
Sossamon's overall score was 4.17 on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the best mark. That compares with last year's score of 4.49, and 4.64 the previous year. In the first year after his arrival in 2012, commissioners scored him at 4.09.
Like last year, when the newest commissioner then, Jeff Holcomb, gave him a mediocre score, this year's lowest ratings came from new commissioners John Allocco, Steve Champion and John Mitten. Mitten has been filling in for Holcomb while he was fulfilling military service and completed two separate evaluations — one reviewing Sossamon as county administrator and one as economic development director.
Holcomb returns to his seat this month.
The highest marks came from commission Chairman Wayne Dukes, who, as in previous years, gave Sossamon all 5's. A score of 5 indicates "excellent/proficient" in the 15 categories, including such traits as planning, organizing, financial management, creativity and ethics.
Dukes complimented Sossamon for "great leadership skills'' and suggested that his goal for the future should be "continuing to make government more efficient.''
Commissioner Nick Nicholson gave Sossamon his next-highest score, 4.67, and listed among the administrator's strongest traits: "protects the (county) employees, has a vision to make Hernando County a place people want to come to, good at bring(ing) jobs to the county.'' He also noted that Sossamon's shifting of people into proper positions has made the county "more efficient and customer friendly.''
The lowest score came from Allocco, at 3.27. He filled out separate comment sheets for Sossamon's two roles and docked him in points, saying he needs to improve his communication with the commission and the public. He cited controversy over sharing budgeting information with the sheriff and others, but gave him high grades for his energy and resilience.
Likewise, Champion marked Sossamon down for communication with the commission. Both Allocco and Champion pushed for more focus on economic development and issues that have erupted at Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport.
Mitten, who has worked with Sossamon for less than three months, urged a full-time economic development director while praising him as an administrator.
"Len is a gifted administrator and is at home in government,'' he wrote. "A pleasure to work with, not easily swayed and wonderfully clever.''
Sossamon has been Hernando's longest-serving administrator since the County Commission fired 13-year administrator Chuck Hetrick in August 1997.
Sossamon's current annual salary is $199,389.
Contact Barbara Behrendt at [email protected] or (352) 848-1434