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Hernando administrator scores well with commissioners

BROOKSVILLE — County Administrator David Hamilton's five bosses were largely positive in their annual review of his work with his overall score rising slightly from last year.

The scores' average is 3.89, compared with last year's 3.68, out of a possible 5 points and earning a rating of exceeding expectations. He earned a perfect score of 5 from the newest commissioner, Wayne Dukes.

"Open and direct communication,'' Dukes wrote of Hamilton.

The evaluations come as Hamilton nears his third anniversary as administrator, a milestone many past Hernando administrators have been unable to achieve.

The five commissioners were nearly universal in their scores marking Hamilton as exceeding expectations or scoring an excellent in areas of adaptability, creativity, being resilient and crediting his governing body.

The lowest overall score of 3 came from Commissioner Jeff Stabins, who marked that Hamilton needed improvement in planning, forging compromises, communicating with the governing body and accepting direction while giving Hamilton an excellent mark for his communications with the public.

Stabins was the only commissioner to add comments throughout the evaluation.

"Some of the county administrator's strongest traits are honesty, openness, integrity and a real desire to get the job done. His finest accomplishment to date is the fact that he is still here, surviving the cauldron of county politics,'' Stabins wrote.

He offers Hamilton accolades for thinking outside the box and notes "David appears almost oblivious to stress. Citizens don't rattle him. I hardly seem to rattle him. He has apparently mastered the art of Happy Hour as an end-of-day stress reliever.''

While Stabins notes that Hamilton takes the Sunshine Law to heart, he voices some concern that Hamilton might not be as open and transparent in his negotiations with the judiciary.

Stabins is critical of Hamilton putting too much authority with the board chairman to the detriment of communicating with other commissioners, questions Hamilton's success in getting the county's elected constitutional officers to lower their budgets, and criticizes Hamilton's inability to get the judiciary to implement ankle monitoring bracelets or "abandon their ill-conceived desire for additional, unneeded courtrooms.''

He also suggests that Hamilton should listen to and incorporate more staff and board member comments, should work on "overcoming personal animosities toward some employees'' and try to inspire more confidence that "we are all in this mess together, that tomorrow will be a better than today and that, with a good attitude and positive work ethic, the people in local government can continue to provide excellent customer service and be appreciated and rewarded for it.''

But on that point, Stabins says, "unfortunately after three years, I am not convinced David will ever change much in this regard.''

Commissioner John Druzbick, who scored Hamilton with an overall 3.13, was the second lowest score. He marked that Hamilton needed work in "job knowledge.''

Hamilton's score of his own job is nearly the same as what he earned from the board at a 3.87.

His comments in his self-evaluation support many of the individual qualities on which commissioners were asked to grade him. For example, under "planning,'' Hamilton pointed to the seven goals that he set for this year and the progress he is making on those goals.

For "adaptable,'' he notes that the county staff swung into action as soon as the sheriff opened the door to the idea of taking over the jail.

Hamilton marked himself as "exceeding expectations'' in the quality of "humor'' writing, "I tend to take the work seriously while not necessarily taking myself very seriously. I also continue to follow the principle of 'not empowering negative energy' as I committed to do during my initial interview with the county board.''

Hamilton noted that he had no comments on the commissioners' evaluations other than that he would "accept all input as valued direction to professional development.

"I believe that we have developed a solid, professional working relationship with the board that respects our separate functions while acknowledging the board's authority over the entire Board of County Commissioners organization,'' he wrote.

"In addition, we have steadfastly worked to build a cooperative and productive relationship with the constitutional officers, the judiciary and, most importantly, the public that we are all committed to serve.''

Commissioners also completed an evaluation of their county attorney, Garth Coller, at the end of last month.

His score slid some since last year with his overall average 3.25 compared with 3.55 last year.

No areas of improvement were noted on any of the commissioner evaluations. Stabins wrote of Coller, "Garth has served his clients (the Board of County Commissioners) ably for over a decade. He is absolutely loyal and trustworthy.''

Stabins notes that his one weakness is his "big heart.

"He is such a caring individual that sometimes I think he gets taken advantage of and criticized unfairly,'' Stabins wrote.

Hamilton is paid an annual salary of $134,999.90 which totals $183,595 with benefits. Coller is paid an annual salary of $132,828.80 which totals 184,982 with benefits.

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

Hernando administrator scores well with commissioners 03/01/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 1, 2011 8:13pm]
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