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Hernando County Administrator Hamilton gets good marks for first year

BROOKSVILLE — David Hamilton has earned high marks from his bosses in his first year as county administrator, scoring from "acceptable" to "excellent" in every category on his first evaluation.

County commissioners on Tuesday accepted the overall evaluation score of 3.96 out of a possible 5 points.

Hamilton, who came to the county in March 2008, was graded particularly high in the areas of creativity and resilience. The resilience and a thick skin are going to be necessary, he said, because he believes implementing numerous changes in the county will make his second year more challenging than the first.

In his synopsis report to commissioners, Chairman Dave Russell noted that in his planning, organizing and financial management skills, Hamilton is "moving in the right direction and there is every reason to believe that he will continue to evolve and improve in those areas.''

The administrator's more average marks were in areas of his job knowledge and communications, both inside county government and with the community. But Russell said that was to be expected because he was new in the position and there was a high standard for communication in the community.

Russell praised Hamilton for his adaptability and said that commissioners are pleased he accepts direction well and responds aggressively to the will of the majority of the commission.

"It is for this reason that we have every confidence that our county administrator will move forward to improve on these areas that need it,'' he wrote.

During discussion at Tuesday's commission meeting, Russell pointed out that, overall, all of the commissioners' evaluations tracked closely. He also noted that, in doing his self-evaluation, Hamilton gave himself lower scores in some areas than commissioners did.

Hamilton did not earn the same praise from several residents in the audience.

Activist Janey Baldwin blasted Hamilton for not communicating well and for not being able to solve the problem of poor employee morale. She suggested that, instead of asking the county to pay for tuition toward his doctorate, he should pay for a public speaking class.

When Hamilton spoke, he acknowledged that criticism was a part of the job. He thanked commissioners for the opportunity to serve and "make continuous improvement on behalf of our citizens.''

Later in the meeting, he noted that he had submitted a letter to the county withdrawing the request to be reimbursed approximately $2,600 for tuition as he works toward his doctorate in public administration. His experiences in Hernando County have been part of his studies, and his letter states that he is now going in a different direction with his program and intends instead to write a book about his government experiences.

Hamilton also noted that, given the current economic times, the commission is looking at its overall tuition policy for employees. He recommended that commissioners invoke a provision in the policy that states that, if the commission deems it appropriate to suspend reimbursement for a period of time, it can do so.

Commissioners voted unanimously to take that route. Their action will not impact the handful of county employees already approved for reimbursement by their supervisors.

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

Hernando County Administrator Hamilton gets good marks for first year 03/24/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 24, 2009 9:16pm]
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