In a special meeting of the Jackson County Board of County Commissioners Tuesday, the board voted three to one to approve changes to the operational procedures. County Administrator Wilanne Daniels said the experience with Hurricane Michael played a significant role in her thoughts on the changes she proposed. Her goal is to make the structure flow smoothly without anything falling through the cracks. Daniels said with 18 people presently reporting to her, that was a impossibility no matter how strong of an administrator she was. Below is what Daniels proposed to the board.
“During my time as County Administrator the county has experienced one of the most catastrophic and devastating natural disasters in our history. In the days following the storm our individual strengths and weaknesses, as well as our strengths and weaknesses as a county became very evident. In reviewing our current organizational chart I realized that a large amount of our current weaknesses can be blamed on the number of people directly reporting to the County Administrator. With 18 staff members directly reporting to me, when my focus should be on long-term recovery, budgetary issues, and bigger picture items – my time is instead spent on day-to-day issues, personnel matters, and the direction of my managers. I feel that the county and my employees need more than I currently have the time to give in order to adequately foster the growth and development that they both need.
To this end I have conducted research verifying that other counties are not structured like Jackson County, in fact, most if not all other counties reviewed included a more evenly distributed managerial structure that allowed the County Administrator to better provide for the needs of the county. So, after hours of research, outreach, and review I am proposing that the board adopt the attached organizational structure. This restructuring will:
Require the creation of two new positions: a Deputy County Administrator and an Operations and Budget Director (these changes will use $68,000 of the $150,000 from this FY (Fiscal Year) Budget for Salary Adjustments)
Reclassification of the current Administrative Services Director to a Long-Term Recovery and Facilities Coordinator (No Budgetary Impact);
Reclassification of the current Chief of Corrections to a Public Safety Officer/Chief of Corrections (No Budgetary Impact);
Reclassification of the Community Development Director (No Budgetary Impact);
Establishment of a Community Services Director (No Budgetary Impact);
Reclassification of the current Administrative Support III to a Road & Bridge Business Manager; and
Reclassification of the current Road and Bridge District Supervisors from Pay Grade 123 to Pay Grade 128 (these changes will use funds from Vacant Assistant Road and Bridge Superintendent)
I am sensitive to the budgetary constraints we are facing in the wake of Michael and as a county overall. I view this reorganization as an investment, during possibly the most critical time for our county. These changes will shape the aptitude, transparency, accountability, and overall integrity of what we do and how we do it.
I truly believe that this request will give us the solid foundation needed to move forward to focusing on recovery and beyond for the county. With the right order established we will be able to better assess, reach individual departments, and determine what still needs to be addressed, streamlined, defined, and/or developed – which will result in a stronger department and by default a stronger county government. My hope is that the end result will be a county that has been fortified to face not only inevitable changes and natural disasters, but whatever the future chooses to throw at us.
The Administrative Services Director is now Pam Pichard. Daniels told the board that in conversations with Pichard she was concerned about focusing strictly on long term recovery with Hurricane Michael issues and that in no way was she being forced out of a job. Daniels praised the work done by Prichard with FEMA, insurance, and all things associated with Hurricane Michael.
On a motion by Commissioner Jim Peacock with a second by Commissioner Eric Hill, the commission voted 3-1 to with Commissioner Chuck Lockey not supporting the change. Commissioner Willie Spires was absent and did not cast a vote.