Sunday, May 27, 2018
News Roundup

Hernando County administrator grades himself tougher than his bosses

BROOKSVILLE — For his one-year anniversary as Hernando County administrator, Len Sossamon received the gift of a positive evaluation from county commissioners.

His evaluation earned him a numeric score of 4.09 out of a possible 5 and none of the commissioners scored his qualities as below the standard of "meets expectations'' in any category. The ranking is slightly higher than he gave himself in his self evaluation, which averaged out to 4.07.

Sossamon said that he felt good about the review by commissioners and that he was already making their suggested improvements.

He earned his lowest score from Commissioner Nick Nicholson, who was also most detailed in his comments about work Sossamon needs to do.

"Employee evaluations have not been done for years," Nicholson wrote. "After a year on the job, I would have hoped that you knew about this without me bring(ing) it to your attention.''

That's the same criticism Nicholson leveled at Sossamon during a recent commission meeting. Since that time, Sossamon has met with his assistant administrators and supervisors have been told that they must have their evaluations up to date by the end of May. Those who don't will be reprimanded, he said.

Nicholson also jabbed at the county utilities department, saying that it needs to be reorganized and that there are too many supervisors. Sossamon said that he has already talked about this to Brian Malmberg, assistant administrator for operations, and that Malmberg is looking into it.

Nicholson also urged Sossamon to get a new fleet manager on board and the administrator said he is working on that as well.

As a weakness, Nicholson wrote that Sossamon "needs to know when county policies are not followed. Can improve by having people reporting to him telling him what is going on.''

Sossamon's recent reorganization, which narrowed his core managers to four assistant administrators, is accomplishing that goal, Sossamon said.

Not all of Nicholson's comments on the administrator were negative. He noted that Sossamon worked hard, finished tasks, listened well to his commissioners and was always accessible.

Commission Chairman Dave Russell urged Sossamon to implement his strategic plan and Sossamon said he will soon be bringing that before the commission, possibly as early as the end of the month.

Russell also noted that Sossamon "has done well in his efforts to boost morale in his management team and county employees. His community outreach program has struck a positive chord with the public as well.''

"Len hit the ground running,'' wrote Commission Wayne Dukes. "His experience in the private sector in addition to his government work experience has already shown to be beneficial to his role as county administrator.''

Commissioner Jim Adkins wrote that he wants Sossamon to keep working on economic development and he noted that the administrator has a "good management style. Very good keeping me well advised.''

Sossamon's highest marks came from Commissioner Diane Rowden. She noted that his "communications skills are excellent.''

In his self-evaluation, Sossamon listed what he perceived as his accomplishments in his first year. The were "restructuring the county's operations, reorganizing Animal Services, dealing with last spring's "monsoon season," dealing with issues of trust with the citizens and the press.''

His goals for the upcoming year are to get his strategic plan approved and put in place, to soon receive oil spill money though the Restore Act to benefit Hernando County and to continue to restructure government to make it more efficient.

Sossamon also sought help from commissioners, asking them to be "precise in directives,'' and to help him "anticipate problems or areas of concern that I am not hear(ing) about. This way we can be more proactive and less reactive.''

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 848-1434.

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