BROOKSVILLE - It started last week when County Commissioner Jim Adkins wanted to know why the software program the county uses to assemble meeting agendas was not reviewed by appropriate staff members in a timely manner.
He expressed surprise when County Administrator Len Sossamon told him that 75 percent of the items scheduled for the agenda were not ready for his review by the deadline.
"It blew my mind," Sossamon said. "I just kind of freaked out."
Sossamon said he will direct managers and deputy administrators to do a better job of signing off on agenda items so as not to create backlogs and hardship on his staff and to make sure the county's business all makes it onto the agendas for the bi-weekly meetings.
"I think everybody should be a little more diligent," Sossamon said. "There is a lot of time involved. There's important business for the county"
Tina Duenninger, the administrator's executive assistant, said the last meeting was particularly difficult due to a lack of managerial reviews that didn't make it in time for deadline. All the items eventually got onto the meeting agenda but it took extra work.
The process is hectic enough as it is, Duenninger said, and when reviews and final sign-offs are late it exacerbates the problem.
"That creates a huge hassle," she said. "It backlogs everything."
Hernando County has used the Minute Traq software system for about four years to generate agendas and compile meeting materials.
Duenninger said before she was hired in March, the former executive assistant received help with the agenda from Community Relations Coordinator Brenda Frazier. But after Frazier retired, it has been pretty much a one-person task for her, Duenninger said.
Virginia Singer, who replaced Frazier, is still getting up to speed on the Minute Traq system, Duenninger said.
Also, the county plans to hire another person to help relieve the duties of both Duenninger and Singer. That job posting has yet to be approved.
Adkins said he wants to see how the process of putting together meeting agendas can be better managed to avoid getting employees frustrated.
"This puts a tremendous strain on the secretary (Duenninger)," Adkins said.
Sossamon said he has already talked to Duenninger and Singer about possibly having a workshop to discuss fine-tuning the mechanics "to see if we can make it work better."
Commissioner Wayne Dukes asked Sossamon to keep the board informed "so at least we know what's going on."
Dukes also wants to know which department managers and administrators are routinely late in reviewing agenda items.