Friday, Oct 24, 2014
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Hernando County's mosquito control director fired

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BROOKSVILLE - Hernando County's mosquito control director has been fired after his supervisor determined he failed to perform his duties.

The search is on to replace Peter Taylor before the peak of mosquito season begins.

Taylor's boss, Director of Environmental Services Susan Goebel-Canning, provided a laundry list of problems with Taylor.

"Although the decision was difficult, it was necessary to ensure that the mosquito control program operates effectively," Goebel-Canning wrote.

Taylor, who made $54,059 annually, replaced Dr. Guangye Hu, who managed mosquito control for 12 years prior to leaving for another position.

In a termination letter dated Mar. 12, Goebel-Canning said Taylor lacks a clear understanding of budgetary limitations and utilizing sound judgment in managing the mosquito control department.

"As a result, termination shall be effective immediately," wrote Goebel-Canning, who could not be reached for comment.

Goebel-Canning said Taylor used poor judgment on employee performance evaluations. In one case, when an employee called in sick, Taylor went to the person's home to give him his evaluation, which placed "undue stress on a sick employee," she wrote.

Going to an employee's home to do the evaluation "is not a normal work practice," Goebel-Canning said.

Taylor also cited an instance where Taylor missed a scheduled meeting.

County Commissioner Dave Russell said he is confident that a replacement will be in place before the insect season starts, typically when the rainy season kicks in around June.

Russell said he was surprised to receive the email from Goebel-Canning containing the disciplinary and termination notices. Normally, the process is handled directly through Human Resources and never gets to the county commissioners, who serve as policy-makers.

"It's probably the first time I saw (this done)," Russell said. "I'm not sure of the reason."

Commissioner Jim Adkins said he believes Goebel-Canning wanted to inform the commissioners of the action she was about to take regarding Taylor. It sounds as if she had sufficient grounds to terminate, he said.

Meanwhile, there has been no progress in the impasse between the city of Brooksville and Hernando County regarding mosquito spraying.

It was announced in March that Hernando County would not provide the service to the city until it paid its $15,214 bill.

County Administrator Len Sossamon said in a letter to Brooksville City Manager Jennene Norman-Vacha that the county was forced to take the action after the city's "surreptitious removal of itself" from the Municipal Services Taxing Unit (MSTU) that funds mosquito control.

Norman-Vacha said the city is not obligated to pay the bill because both municipalities could not reach an agreement by July 1. A that point, it became null and void, she said.

Vacha said recently she and staff are preparing a report that will show that the city is not on the hook for any outstanding money and that Hernando County is obligated to spray.

Assistant County Administrator George Zoettlein said Wednesday he has not yet seen such a report.

mbates@hernandotoday.com

(352) 544-5290

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