BROOKSVILLE — The Hernando County Commission may seek the assistance of an outside firm to help find the county's next administrator.
Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to put out a request for qualifications to find out what it would cost and what services would be available if the commission had an outside company advertise, screen and recommend administrator applicants.
County staffers had recommended the approach, arguing that the county would likely get a larger pool of applicants, a list of people that would be vetted and qualified. There would be other benefits as well, explained Cheryl Marsden, director of administrative services.
One firm she contacted had a "money-back guarantee" if the chosen candidate didn't last a year, and half the cost back if the person didn't last two years. That company also gives clients an option not only for a background check, but also for a psychological evaluation.
Commissioner Dave Russell said those were good selling points for considering a search firm.
Commission Chairman Jim Adkins and Commissioner Jeff Stabins said they were unsure that they wanted to spend money on an outside firm, but both voted to put out the request for qualifications, with the option of saying no once the proposals are reviewed.
Commissioner Wayne Dukes said he also was reluctant to spend money, but "I think it would be a good investment.''
In addition, commissioners were anxious to find a way for a local panel of residents to recommend top picks from the short list of administrator candidates.
Some members of the audience supported the idea, while others warned that any committee should represent all sectors of the community.
Spring Hill resident Walter Dry suggested a mixture of people from a variety of professions to avoid the appearance that "the good old boys'' were picking the next administrator.
"Select them by their backgrounds and expertise and not by who you know,'' Dry said.
Commissioners also agreed to feed ideas about what they want from their next administrator to the county's chief procurement officer, Russell Wetherington, so the ideas can be incorporated into the request for qualifications to outside firms.
Commissioners on Tuesday did not finalize their choice of an interim administrator, but rather agreed to allow current staffers to apply for the job between now and the next commission meeting in December. Land services director Ron Pianta has been in the role since last week, when a divided commission fired David Hamilton.
Pianta said he did not want the permanent administrator's job, but would temporarily fill any position for which the commission wanted him.
Dukes has been pushing Wetherington for the interim administrator's job. Russell said he just wanted to give all employees a chance to express interest.
Barbara Behrendt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1434.