We recommend that Cheryl Marsden, human resources director, put together a plan for finding and selecting a new county administrator. That plan should allow for the staff to advertise first within the state for a competent, qualified person to submit their resume to the county.
If there are not enough responses from Florida, the search can then be expanded to the southeastern United States. A minimum requirement is a college degree with emphasis on public administration and preferably a master's degree, which should be included in the advertisement.
The requirements should also include the prerequisite of having held a similar position in a comparable population, or as a qualified assistant to that position. The person should have strong managerial talent along with good people skills and be an excellent communicator.
Another prerequisite is a better than average understanding of municipal financing and budgeting, along with some examples of dealing with unionized employees.
Marsden and her staff can easily vet the respondents and exclude those that do not meet the basic requirements. We should not allow someone to grow into the job, entertaining an "earn while you learn" philosophy at the expense of the taxpayers.
The respondents can be reduced to a pool of 10 to 15 candidates and the next step would be having a 10-member committee of citizens appointed by county commissioners (each commissioner to select two persons) and that committee could further reduce the remaining candidates to a top five.
Those remaining candidates would be submitted, not in any rank order, to the county commission to make a final choice. This should be a cost effective method and one that will provide transparency to the process.
Finally, the pay for the position should be commensurate with prior experience. Let's not be penny wise and dollar foolish after all, you get what you pay for.