Live Oak —
We are taking a break from our call to economic improvement to zoom in on the Suwannee County Board of County Commissioners. It seems like the board is on a spending rampage (on a project that needs to be completed, we might add). However, the county’s bank account is only so vast and lest we forget it is taxpayer money. While money is getting tight, taking the conservative road would seem like the thing to do. Some, however, feel it’s time to issue a raise. (See related story, here).
In January of 2012, a former Marion County commissioner and construction company executive became the public works director for Suwannee County. Randy Harris was hired for $71,000. Five months later, Harris was named the first county administrator and the county increased his salary to $80,000. Harris then stood before the board and requested to function as both the county administrator and public works director, citing he could handle both jobs and wanted to save taxpayer money. This proposal increased his salary to $90,000.
“The public arena should be no less concerned with saving money than the private sector,” Harris told the Democrat when he received the go ahead last year to wear both hats.
Commission Chairman Wesley Wainwright and Phil Oxendine both said it was understood that when Harris was tasked to do both jobs, that it would later be reviewed.
Wainwright told the Democrat then: “I would like to try it for a short period of time to see if it works. He’s not going to be given a lot of latitude for mistakes and there are a lot of eyes watching him.”
Apparently he is doing the jobs more than satisfactorily. But that previous statement doesn't state anything about his contract being reviewed.
Most everyone can agree that Harris has done an exceptional job and his work ethics are to be praised.
However, he is not doing anything other than what he was hired, and agreed, to do.
The raise wouldn’t be a bad idea if the county was ready and willing to give pay raises to its employees who haven’t seen a pay raise in about five years.
Commissioner Phil Oxendine proposed giving the raise to Harris.
We are up to hearing you out, Phil. But next time, put something as sensitive as this on the agenda so the public can have the opportunity to weigh in. We assure you that there would have been some county employees at the meeting if it were publicized. We think you know this, too.
Commissioner Jason Bashaw said the timing just isn’t right for a raise.
Commissioner Ricky Gamble said it’s tough to justify the raise when the county is doling out millions on the Klausner project and other county employee raises have stalled for years.
We are glad the board decided not to move forward on this matter just now.
Harris may be talented, but that talent can only get you so far without good employees backing you. Let’s not forget the rest of your employees when it’s time to show appreciation.