County commissioners Tuesday decided to let their county administrator decide who will fill the position of the expanded public service director job.
And it is likely, after lengthy discussion at the board meeting, that person will either be the current public safety director Mike Nickerson or Spring Hill Fire Chief Mike Rampino.
Unless County Administrator Len Sossamon decides otherwise, commissioners were reluctant to advertise the position and instead believe the position can be filled in-house.
Should either Nickerson or Rampino get the job, they would be required to pursue a four-year college degree, something neither man has right now.
County Commission Chairman Wayne Dukes said dictating a job description of the new position to Sossamon does a disservice to the administrator and the public. That is his job and the decision as to who fills the job should be his, Dukes said.
County Commissioner Nick Nicholson said he would have favored advertising but was willing to see someone in-house get the job.
Nicholson said he did not want to do what he calls "the good old boy" method of promoting someone and then rewriting the job description to suit the person.
If it comes down to Nickerson or Rampino, Nicholson said he would choose the latter.
Nickerson, he said, has already indicated he plans to retire in two years.
County Commissioner Dave Russell said he is satisfied with the current leadership in fire services and it's up to Sossamon to decide if changes are needed.
Sossamon may recommend the board continue the status quo and scrap plans to enhance the public safety position.
County commissioners at a workshop last week tossed around several suggestions for a job description of who could end up running a consolidated county fire district.
At least two thought the director of integrated fire rescue and public safety services—the new term for the public safety director – should at least have a four-year college degree.
Others thought on-the-job experience counts more than higher education experience.
The discussion also got around to whether to recruit inside, allowing local fire employees to apply.
Unable to reach a consensus, the board decided to revisit the issue Tuesday and agreed to keep hands off from hereon and let Sossamon decide.
Adkins said he favors keeping Nickerson in that position and possibly having Rampino act as assistant.
"There would be a learning curve and we are in stage three of consolidation," Adkins said.
"It's just so important to keep the ones in there that have the institutional knowledge to work together to make this happen."
County Commissioner Diane Rowden agreed that Nickerson and Rampino have decades of experience, have served this county well and advocated allowing them to continue their jobs.
Rowden has objected to county commissioners trying to tell the county administrator what should go in the job description for the new public safety position.
Both Nickerson and Rampino told Hernando Today they would have no problems working together should one of them get the top spot.