BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County commissioners didn't have to look far to find their next county administrator. On Tuesday, they tapped acting Administrator Jeff Rogers.
Rogers, 47, has been filling in on the job since the commission fired Len Sossamon in January.
The county had advertised the position, lined up 12 applicants and narrowed the list to eight, anticipating a discussion at Tuesday's commission meeting. But Commissioner Steve Champion stopped that discussion, saying he was ready to pick Rogers outright.
"We hired this man as deputy administrator,'' so he could step up if the county lost Sossamon, Champion said, which he has done.
"He's doing a great job,'' Champion said, and drawing out the process would be "a waste of taxpayers' time and money.''
Commissioner Wayne Dukes said he also had made his mind up. Rogers is up to speed on the county's issues and ready to go, Dukes said.
Commissioner John Mitten had three names on his short list, but called Rogers "a clear leader,'' "a problem solver'' and "a pleasure to work with.''
Commission Chairman Jeff Holcomb also liked Rogers best.
Commissioner John Allocco agreed, but was concerned about not interviewing others who had good qualifications. Maybe one could be considered in the future as a deputy to Rogers, he said.
The vote to hire Rogers was unanimous.
Holcomb will negotiate a contract with him, and bring it back for commissioners to consider at their next meeting on May 28.
Sossamon earned a salary and benefits package of $295,684 for a position that included his work as county administrator and as county economic development director.
Commissioners fired him over concerns about his handling of personnel issues and because of the county's multi-million-dollar budget deficit. During Tuesday's meeting, the commission also confirmed Stephanie Russ as the county's new budget director. Commissioners said they hope she can help them steady their financial position.
Rogers will have the singular role of county administrator. He was originally hired at a salary of $126,474.
Rogers, who came to Hernando County in 2017, has lived in Spring Hill for several years. He previously worked as assistant county administrator in Citrus County and acting administrator in Citrus for a time. He is trained as an engineer and told commissioners that he believes "our county is a great place to live.''
Both his bachelor's and master's degrees in engineering come from the University of Miami, prompting some ribbing from commissioners about removing the college-touting license plate from his vehicle. Rogers also is a Navy veteran.
"I'm very blessed to have this opportunity,'' Rogers said after the vote.
Contact Barbara Behrendt at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1434.