Public safety job debated
By Michael D. Bates | Hernando TodayBROOKSVILLE - County Commissioner Jim Adkins says he believes there is no need to start talking seriously about filling a recommended new position for public safety director until January.
Published: November 28, 2012
Published: November 28, 2012
With the rush of the holiday season, it should probably be placed on the backburner until then, Adkins says.
However, for whatever reason, there seems to be a push to get that position filled as soon as possible and Adkins has no idea why.
"I have not been told that there is a need right now to push this," Adkins said. "It hasn't been explained to me."
County Commission Chairman Wayne Dukes broached the subject at last week's county commission meeting.
Dukes said the county has until October 2013 to consolidate the Spring Hill and county fire departments and, with an undertaking that big, Hernando County needs to move ahead now with the process of hiring someone.
"There is no reason to wait," he said.
Dukes said it will take time to approve a job description, send out advertisements and vet candidates.
Ideally, the person hired will work with the county administrator on a consolidation plan that will ultimately be approved by the board, Dukes said.
"To me it's not hurrying (and) it's not being late," Dukes said. "It's being prudent."
The new person will be responsible for overseeing, coordinating and managing the day-to-day operations, activities and functions of the county fire department, emergency medical services and the animal shelter.
County Commissioner Dave Russell said it is important the board move ahead quickly with the vetting process to make sure there is ample time to find a qualified applicant.
"The push is to move the process forward so when the time comes, we are well-prepared to fill the position," Russell said.
Last September, county commissioners approved a job description for director of integrated fire rescue and public safety services. But that position has not been approved yet for advertising, according to Director of Administrative Services Cheryl Marsden.
Marsden said the matter is going back to the board at their next meeting, scheduled for Dec. 11, with minor job description changes, and it may be decided then when to advertise.
The tweaked job description includes a provision that the county prefers an applicant with previous experience overseeing an animal services department and be knowledgeable of animal protection laws, ordinances, rules and regulations.
Other changes mandate that the applicant serve on the county's leadership team, assisting in providing senior level management to the entire county.
The person will also oversee the preparation of the fire, EMS and animal shelter annual and capital expenditure budgets and has control over expenditures.
County Administrator Len Sossamon decided to consolidate the county's fire rescue/suppression, emergency medical, and animal shelter services into a single, integrated department.
The annual salary range for the new post is at $72,488 to $116,858.
Mike Nickerson currently has the title of public safety director. Hired by the county in January 1985, he makes $95,611 annually.
Nickerson expressed surprise last September when Sossamon decided to reclassify his position and recruit outside for candidates.
When the job description is finalized, Nickerson has said he will apply for the post. Also expected to apply is Spring Hill Fire Chief Mike Rampino, who was temporarily placed in charge of Spring Hill and county fire services after Nickerson's reassignment.
Sossamon took away the fire services part of Nickerson's duties so he could concentrate full-time on trying to stabilize the animal services department, which has been rocked with several high-profile problems.
Probably the biggest was a bungled euthanasia on a pit bull-mix last April.
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