Thursday, Jul 31, 2014
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Business booster job on agenda

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BROOKSVILLE - County commissioners Tuesday will discuss whether they want the human resources department to recruit for the soon-to-be vacant director of economic development position or hire a search firm.

If the latter, the county would obtain three quotes from headhunting companies. The cost would be $20,000 or more and take two to four months.

Commissioners also will also discuss an idea by Morris Porton, executive at Florida Traditions Bank, asking the board to delay recruiting anyone and instead consider forming an economic development system similar to one previously used in Hernando County but abolished in 2002.

That system was composed of private and public members and worked autonomously from the county.

"Many years ago I was part of a group that put one together for Hernando County, and I felt it was quite successful," Porton wrote. "It was disbanded, not because of our local board, but issues with the director we hired."

Porton said he supports having the Greater Hernando County Chamber of Commerce's advocacy committee research the pros and cons of a partnership "and see if it makes sense."

County Commissioner Wayne Dukes told Hernando Today he is in favor of hiring a search firm to conduct a nationwide search to ensure the board has credible recommendations and can get someone on board by year's end.

Dukes said the position is too important to entrust it to a county office and he wants to make sure someone doesn't get the job simply because he or she is a friend of someone.

Business Development Director Mike McHugh last month announced his resignation effective Sept. 13.

Dukes said Friday he is in favor of giving someone a salary and then offering an incentive or bonus for bringing in new industry. That bonus could be 5 percent or whatever the board chooses, he said.

"That's not uncommon in the private sector," he said.

Dukes said he would not be in favor of a public-private partnership and instead prefers one person who is accountable to the county administrator and the commissioners.

The county commission meeting will begin at 9 a.m. Tuesday at the Hernando County Government Center, 20 North Main St. in downtown Brooksville.

Also on the agenda:

Planning department staffers have developed a management plan for the relocation of gopher tortoises to the county-managed Lake Townsen environmentally sensitive lands preserve.

Many of these reptiles have negatively affected some construction projects, which had to be halted while certified gopher tortoise handlers removed them to approved habitats elsewhere in the region.

For example, during the widening of Sunshine Grove Road and the county landfill construction project, the county paid $200,000 for gopher removal.

Last year, county commissioners directed staff to establish a gopher tortoise recipient site at Lake Townsen Preserve, one of the county's environmentally sensitive lands.

County staffers would become certified in tortoise handling, making it unnecessary to call a trained expert every time a burrow was found on a road project or other construction site.

The 300-plus acre preserve must be cleared of debris, scrub and some invasive exotic plants dangerous to tortoises. The county must then appeal to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for a permit.

With permit in-hand, it will be necessary to do controlled burns on an annual basis to keep the preserve in shape. The entire process could take until 2014.

Board members will discuss the coordination of the Veterans' Appreciation Parade planned for Nov. 9 in downtown Brooksville.

At their last meeting, commissioners approved a request from parade coordinator Anna Liisa Covell to sponsor the 2013 event, along with future parades. Staff said the estimated cost to the county for this year's parade is $1,500.

In 2011, the board entered into a lease with Auro Community Cannery Inc. to operate the Little Rock Cannery at 15487 Citrus Way north of Brooksville.

That lease expires the end of this month and the board will discuss extending it by two years to allow Auro to evaluate other options.

To view the entire agenda, visit http://hernando countyfl.iqm2.com /Citizens/Detail_Meeting .aspx?ID=1385

mbates@hernandotoday.com

(352) 544-5290

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