Cobb to fill four department leadership positions

Cobb County is likely to refill four agency leadership positions as part of a plan to cut the number of direct reports to its county manager and to streamline county operations.

The four positions, which will likely be publicly advertised, would cost taxpayers from about $327,000 to $531,000 in salaries based on the pay ranges provided Tuesday.

The four positions — public safety, public services, purchasing and deputy emergency management agency directors — have been empty or have been filled by interim leaders for the past few years. Restoring them with permanent directors was recommended earlier this year by a citizens committee that reviewed the county's spending and priorities.

The committee's report, presented in February, found that Cobb needed to restructure some of its departments to cut down on redundancies and cut spending. The committee also found that County Manager David Hankerson was overseeing too many departments, some as a result of not having permanent directors.

Depending on when the positions are filled, the salaries could be paid out of money for unforeseeable costs, such as gas and utilities, from the current budget, which ends Sept. 30. About $77,850 is budgeted for the last two months of this year. The jobs also are included in the fiscal 2013 budget beginning Oct. 1, budgeted at $467,103.

Tuesday's work session was another in a series of meetings between the commissioners and Hankerson on the recommendations of the oversight committee. Of the committee's 201 recommendations included in the February report, the county has acted on about 75 percent of them, Hankerson said.

Commissioners, on the advice of Hankerson, rejected the oversight group recommendations to move the county's animal control agency from public safety to the police department. They also let Cobb EMA and human resources continue reporting to Hankerson.

Commissioners also decided Tuesday to create two volunteer committees, as recommended by the oversight panel, to review the county's audit work and employee compensation. The decision marks a change, specifically for Hankerson and Commission Chairman Tim Lee, who previously recommended against establishing the two groups.

Cobb has not had a compensation review in seven years. And tight budgets have meant no employee raises for the past few years and five furlough days in fiscal 2011, which the oversight panel noted was hurting workforce morale.

The volunteer committees will include at least five members: the commission chairman, another commissioner, two outside experts and another elected official. As part of the compensation committee's work, members will decide how best to complete an updated class and pay study for Cobb's workforce.

Last month, Hankerson recommended hiring an outside firm to conduct the study, which was estimated to cost $350,000. Although no decisions had been made at that time, residents immediately complained about the cost, and recommended the work be completed by the volunteer compensation committee.

Empty Cobb positions

Cobb County plans to refill these four positions at the listed salary ranges. The positions will be publicly advertised:

Purchasing director: $72,217-$117,416

Public safety director: $101,587-$165,651

Public service director: $96,803-$157,809

Deputy emergency management agency director: $56,596-$90,563

Source: Cobb County Office of Communications