Citrus County Commissioners will consider contracting with a new Administrator that pays him $34,000 more than the current one.
Commissioners are looking to contract with Steve Howard, current Administrator of Camden County, Georgia, at a $197,500 annual salary. His starting date is Nov. 28, if Commissioners approve the contract at their Oct. 18 meeting.
The contract also calls for Howard to receive seven weeks paid time off a year, full use of a county SUV, moving and relocation expenses. Howard has already signed the contract.
Commissioners are looking for the successor to County Administrator Randy Oliver, who is retiring Nov. 8 after seven years on the job.
Howard, who has worked in Camden County as Administrator for 15 years, was one of four finalists in Citrus County.
His one-on-one interviews with Commissioners prior to their Sept. 27 public presentations hit home. Commissioner Scott Carnahan, who two weeks prior said none of the applicants impressed him, changed his mind after meeting with Howard and being handed a brochure explaining Camden County’s strategic plan.
“I’m very impressed with what you brought here,” Carnahan told Howard. “You impressed me.”
Commissioner Ruthie Davis Schlabach agreed.
“I see so many qualities in this candidate,” she said.
While the vote to offer the job to Howard was unanimous, Commissioners were initially split between Howard and Tobey Phillips, a former Citrus County department director who is deputy administrator in Hernando County.
“I see her as not ready today,” Schlabach said, referring to Phillips.
Commissioners agreed if they couldn’t work an agreement with Howard that they would then offer the job to Phillips.
Howard has applied for several administrative positions in Florida; coincidentally, he was an applicant in 2015 when Citrus County hired Oliver.
Should Howard take the Citrus County job, he leaves a broiling controversy over Camden County’s pursuit of a commercial spaceport, an issue that is being fought in court as well.
He also is suing an incoming Camden County Commissioner over accusations the then-candidate made about Howard during the campaign.