“They’ll be a great team,” said Commissioner Rhonda Wallace of Burkhalter and Noah Simon, the comparatively new assistant manager who only came aboard eight months ago. Indeed, a mix of veterans and rookies is usually how winning teams are built.
Burkhalter, a graduate of Pepperell and Shorter, has been around this vicinity like forever. He has been county finance officer in charge of all bean counting since 2006, before that protected taxpayer pennies and where they went for the Bartow County School System, and even earlier spent 19 years as the finance guy for the City of Rome.
He thus knows the crucial lay of the land and how both the “players” and overall community think about the most important aspect of getting this particular job done.
HIS EXPERTISE also matches up well with the thinking of the current commission leadership, which appears all about counting beans and serving up the minimum diet needed to keep the community alive. The planting of beans to create new crops hasn’t been atop the commission’s agenda lately.
The commission expects the search for a permanent county manager to take at least 90 days. It could take longer ... at least if done right and insisting upon finding the excellent manager with good vision for what’s over the horizon that the post demands.
That probably won’t be easy. The county does not pay an all-star sort of salary to start with (Williams is getting a raise for going to No. 2 in Athens from being No. 1 in Floyd). More importantly, this makes two well-thought-of county managers that Floyd has lost in the space of a year as Williams replaced the veteran Kevin Poe who went to Jefferson County.
The community of county executives — just like that of school superintendents or any variety of top corporate executives — tends to be well informed about opportunities and highly wary about leaping without looking. Losing two top guys with solid reputations this quickly runs storm warnings up their flagpoles. Worse, it is not unknown for such openings to attract applicants who are trying to get away from something instead of running toward a golden opportunity.
AS THE COMMISSION narrows whatever field emerges to the three finalists it must name before making a final selection — everything before is secretive as many applicants don’t want present employers to know they are looking elsewhere — it would be highly advisable for commissioners to go slowly, openly and afford citizens, media and other interested local parties plenty of time to examine the credentials themselves, and to have a very public interviewing process including allowing citizens to ask their own questions.
Let’s try not to make this particular job search an annual event.