Live Oak —
The Suwannee County Board of County Commissioners voted 3-2 Tuesday night to name former Suwannee County Economic Alliance President Dennis Cason the interim economic development consultant for the county until the county’s director position can be filled. Commission Chair Phil Oxendine and Commissioner Jason Bashaw voted against. Cason will act as an independent contractor.
In the early fall of 2013, Cason announced he would be retiring from his positions with the Suwannee County Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Alliance at the end of December. In light of Cason’s retirement, the board directed county staff in September to create a job description for an economic development director for the county at their monthly meeting. In November, the board voted to approve a job description and pay range for the county’s future economic development director position. As of Jan. 8, the position has not been filled.
Commissioner Wesley Wainwright, who presented the agenda item to the board, said he would like to see Cason fill the position temporarily.
“I would like the board of county commissioners to consider, or approve, Cason to continue on with this (economic development) effort,” Wainwright said. “It’ll provide us with the opportunity to have somebody there so we don’t drop the ball, that’s the main thing.”
According to an agreement between Cason and Suwannee County, Cason will resume many of the duties he previously held as well and new tasks including: coordinating all ongoing projects, inquiries, and new projects within a specified time period; continue to participate in all organizations which he is currently a member of; attend county commission meetings; and present a monthly written report to the board, among many other duties.
The contract between Cason and the county took effect Jan. 2 and will be valid until March 31, working no less than 20 hours per week. The contract states the county will pay Cason three equal payments of $3,096 on the last day of each contracted month, a total sum of $9,288. The fee is inclusive of all supplies, office equipment, Internet service, cell phone and travel expenses.
Wellborn resident Wendell Snowden suggested a commissioner act as the director until the position is filled.
“I don’t see why a member of the board couldn’t take over these projects,” Snowden said.
Oxendine told the board he had the time to make phone calls and would be willing to do the job to save tax payer money.
Bashaw said he thought $3,000 was a little much to pay Cason.
“I think staff should handle it,” Bashaw said.
Suwannee Chamber Chairman Bruce Tillman said he is in favor of Cason serving as the county’s consultant.
“I think it’s important we do what we can to keep this thing on track,” Tillman said. “I don’t think we can afford to lose time.”
The board voted 3-2 to hire Cason as an independent economic development consultant until as early as March 2014.
Late December, the Democrat reported only two had applied for the economic development director position with Suwannee County. As of Dec. 18, Kelley Gill of Live Oak and James Munger of Palm Beach Gardens were the only two to apply.
As of Jan. 1, Glenn Vann of Waynesboro, Mississippi; Aaron Matthews of Century; Lori Evan of Jacksonville; Tim Williams of Wellborn; Michael Chandler of Live Oak; and Jason Allen of Noblesville, Indiana had applied for the job.
Board voted to make EDD position independent
County Administrator Randy Harris notified the board Tuesday night they would be re-advertising the position. Harris told the board minor changes were made to the advertisements to include the salary is negotiable based on experience.
“I took a look at several of these (applications), but most of them don’t have the experience,” Harris said. “I think it was a good move to extend the advertising.”
Harris then asked the board for clarification if the economic development director position would work under the board, county administrator or be an independent contractor. Following a brief discussion, the board voted unanimously for the position to be independently contracted and would be under the advisement of the board.