The Franklin County Board of Commissioners in February approved a three-year contract with Derek Brown to serve as the county’s administrator and counselor.
Brown, county counselor since 2014, had served as the interim administrator since early October 2016 after Jon Holmes resigned.
The county was not entering uncharted waters. Lisa Johnson served as the county’s administrator and counselor from late 2007 to 2014, according to Herald archives.
Colton Waymire, chair of the board of commissioners, said other counties also have had one person serve in both capacities.
Brown was hesitant at first to take on the administrator role, he said.
“When this opportunity initially came up, I turned it down,” Brown said. “I did not think the time was right. We went through the process of soliciting applications for that position. There was one in particular that we were very interested in, however, could not get a deal done. We had to break that off.
“The fallout from that, we were looking at what our options were and how best to move forward,” he said. “The board once again asked me ‘what can we do to spur your interest in this?’”
Brown said the idea came up of hiring a finance officer to help him with those aspects. He said breaking off the financial elements would free him to do both [counselor and administrator] positions.
Waymire said it made sense to create the finance officer position to support Brown.
“You have the management aspect as an administrator, the legal aspect of it from the counselor, and also the budget and financial aspect,” Waymire said. “Those three add up to more than one person should be expected to do.”
Waymire said this move to split the financial duties out from the administrator’s responsibilities was more of a reorganization in the county government structure.
“We are replacing two positions with two positions,” he said. “The overall net cost to the county is the same or less. It is a better use of resources.”
Brown said the county employees’ attitudes toward him and each other made it an easier decision to become the administrator.
“If I did not believe in the team we have here at Franklin County, I would not have agreed to do this,” Brown said. “We have several very, very talented department heads and elected officials. With the staff we have in place, it will work very well.”