Wednesday, May 23, 2012
The list of City of Georgetown officials who have announced this month they are leaving increased to three on Thursday with the news Finance Director Jessica Miller is departing to take a job in the private sector.
Miller turned in her two-week notice Wednesday, a day after City Administrator Chris Eldridge was offered the job as Horry County administrator.
Miller’s final day is May 30.
Friday is the last day for Elizabeth Tucker who has been the head of the city’s Building and Planning Department since 2010. She announced her resignation earlier this month saying her decision is based on her family situation and has nothing to do with the city.
Eldridge to Horry
On Tuesday night, Horry County Council voted to offer a contract to Eldridge, one of the three finalists for the county’s administrator’s job.
“It is a positive career move,” Eldridge said when asked why he wanted the new position. “It’s an exciting place to work. If you want to be in local government, it has everything you want to do.”
The Horry County Administrator post — which oversees more than 1,800 employees — has been vacant since John Weaver left in November.
Eldridge was also asked if a recent decision by the city’s Architectural Review Board concerning his house in the Historic District played a role in his decision. The ARB denied his request to remove asbestos siding from the home. He wanted to replace it with HardiePlank siding.
Eldridge said that ruling was not a factor in his decision.
He said he will begin his duties in Horry County in mid-June. He expects his final day in Georgetown to be sometime around May 30.
Eldridge was hired as Georgetown’s administrator in March 2009 and was given a three-year contract. He has been working under an expired contract since March.
One member of City Council told the Georgetown Times there were some on council who did not like some of the wording in the new proposed contract which is why a new work agreement has not been signed.
Mayor Jack Scoville said he feels Eldridge has done a good job for Georgetown during his tenure.
“He has brought the number of employees way down without a loss of efficiency. He helped make the Wayfinding project a reality. He got the drainage project going. I am sorry he is leaving. I wish he would change his mind,” Scoville said, adding he does not blame him for the decision. “It’s a big increase in pay and more responsibilities.”
Council met Thursday night and was expected to authorize the start of the search for the next administrator.
Because Eldridge’s departure is soon, Scoville said an interim will be hired to fill the post until the new administrator can be hired.
He said he expects the city will receive a hundred applications or more once the job is advertised.
“I personally want someone with a master’s in public administration. We are not the same type of city as others with a population of 8500. We have an electric department, a water and sewer department, trash pick up, police, fire. There are a lot of cities with larger populations and less services. The administrator needs to be well-trained and with experience in these areas,” Scoville said.
Councilwoman Peggy Wayne said she hopes the next administrator has experience in attracting businesses to an area.
“We need whoever it is to help us get more businesses in Georgetown,” Wayne said.
Councilwoman Jeanette Ard said the new hire needs to be someone who can bring staff together and is a good public relations person.
Councilman Paige Sawyer said Horry’s gain is Georgetown’s loss and he hopes whoever fills the seat “has the same qualifications” as Eldridge.
Councilman Rudolph Bradley said he totally understands why Eldridge wanted the new job.
“The trends have changed. You don’t have administrators stay in one place 25 years anymore. They do a job then move on. He is a young man and I encourage him to seek more lucrative employment. We cannot pay what Horry County pays. He has done a wonderful job.
Bradley also said he has been an advocate of hiring an assistant administrator since he has been on council. If the city had someone with that title, they could assume the duties during the search without causing any problems, especially now since the city is in the midst of creating the 2012-13 budget and the drainage project work is still in progress.