Imagine it’s time for your annual job review and rather than the boss calling you into her office, it’s five bosses.
And instead of a private chat, the bosses invite in all your co-workers. And everyone in the parking lot. And they decide to video record it too in case someone wants to watch it later.
Sounds like fun? I don’t care what kind of year you’re having, no one wants his job review out there for the whole world to watch.
Yet that’s exactly what County Administrator Randy Oliver is facing today.
The board’s regular meeting agenda for Tuesday includes the annual review of the county administrator.
Though odd, this is how it’s done.
The county has hundreds of employees but only two work directly for the county commission: county administrator and attorney. The other employees work for one of those two, but it’s the county commission alone who decides the top administrator and attorney.
Like everyone else, these employees get annual reviews. Unlike everyone else, there’s no form, no scoresheet to decide what percentage of merit raise the administrator will get.
Rather, it’s all public.
Generally, these are feel good affairs. County commissioners who have issues with the administrator or attorney tend to discuss those in private one-on-one. It’s rare for a job performance issue with the administrator or attorney to go public, and when it does that’s usually not a good thing.
The county hired Oliver in 2014 because commissioners were in the market for someone to put them on the right financial track, and Oliver has certainly done that.
This is the first time he’s being evaluated by Commissioners Holly Davis and Ruthie Davis Schlabach, who took office after commissioners had already done the 2020 administrator evaluation. It’s hard to say how each feels about Oliver’s overall performance, but I know they have some concerns.
Veteran commissioners Scott Carnahan and Chairman Ron Kitchen Jr. are both big fans of Oliver and there’s no reason to think that’s going to change.
Commissioner Jeff Kinnard, well, there’s an interesting wild card.
At the board’s goal-setting retreat, Kinnard pointedly told Oliver he’s heard from three department directors who are begging for more employees. Oliver’s response was we hire what we can afford. Kinnard was less than enamored with Oliver’s approach.
Then there’s the issue of assistant county administrator. Namely, we don’t have one. The county commission has tried to give Oliver help by telling him to hire an assistant and so far, nothing with any consistency.
(One guy they hired turned out to be an elected councilman from a small town in New Jersey. He failed to mention his political career during the job interviews.)
Commissioners asked about that too. What’s the game plan, they wondered, if Randy’s out of pocket? His response was that he has very capable department directors who can step up.
He has one less as of Friday. Public Works Director Randall Olney put in his notice, saying he’s leaving county government for the private sector.
No one wants to talk about someone’s job performance in public, but that’s what we have here. County administrator is arguably the most visible non-elected job in government. It’s an extremely high-profile position in Citrus County and has been for decades.
There’s just no easy way to do this, but if commissioners have an issue with the way the county’s being run day-to-day, they’ve got to say something in that employee’s evaluation. It’ll be interesting to see how this one goes.
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