Suwannee Democrat

June 6, 2014

Suwannee County sets economic director contract terms

Bryant Thigpen
Suwannee Democrat

Live Oak —

The Suwannee County Board of County Commissioners voted 4-1 Tuesday night to accept terms negotiated between the county and Alvin Jackson, who has been selected as the new economic development director. Jackson’s employment with the county is contingent upon clearing a background check.

The county elected to offer Jackson the job at $75,000; no moving allowance; no vehicle allowance; and Jackson will work on a contract basis with a 90 day probation period that will be renewable on a year-to-year basis. Jackson will report directly to the board. 

Chairman Phil Oxendine voted against, stating he wasn’t willing to support paying an annual salary above what Jackson proposed to be the minimum expected salary of $70,000 in his application. 

At a previous meeting, the board voted unanimously to hire Jackson of Boyton Beach. County Administrator Randy Harris was then instructed to begin the background check process and begin negotiations with Jackson.

Jackson’s proposal to the county

On May 22, Jackson submitted a letter to Harris recapping the conversation he had with Harris regarding his requests. 

Jackson stated in the letter he would like to be a county employee with benefits; he would like a vehicle allowance or county issued vehicle for county business; he stated he could start as soon as possible and he would need to secure lodging; he would like consideration for reimbursement for some moving expenses; and the salary preferred is $80,000, citing the amount is based on his experience. 

“I am open to talks no less than $75,000 as discussed,” Jackson said. “If they study my track record both as an economic development professional and a public manager they will see my remarkable results in every community I served.”

On the application, Jackson put the minimum salary expected was $70,000.

The county’s proposal to Jackson

The board decided not to offer moving expenditures, but instead, increased his annual salary to $75,000 from the $70,000 that was previously offered.

The commissioners also elected not to put a vehicle allowance in the contract since it’s a policy the county already has in place.

“Under our current policy, don’t we already allow for that?” Commissioner Ricky Gamble asked. “That’s kind of already built in.”

The county will supply Jackson with a vehicle or reimburse him for mileage for any traveling he has to do for the county.

The board decided Jackson can be a county employee under contract and still receive county benefits. Jackson will answer directly to the board. His contract will be renewable on a year-to-year basis. Jackson will also be placed on a 90 day probation period, and could be terminated with or without cause within that time frame. 

Hiring contingent on background check

“I have to announce that we have some of the background check in our possession, part of it has not come in yet,” said Harris. “I was hoping that would be in before tonight’s meeting but it isn’t...typically all that stuff comes in at one time. We do have most of it, and so far there are no problems from what we have, it’s just we don’t have all of it.”

Harris told the board he is unsure when the county will receive the balance of the background check. 

Jackson may, or may not, agree to the terms approved Tuesday night by the board.