A county employee’s promotion to the newly created Greene County Assistant Administrator position has raised concerns among some county officials over the appointee’s qualifications and the future operations of the county.
County commissioners unanimously appointed Brandon Huddleson, 40, assistant county administrator on Feb. 11.
Huddleson, who is also the county services director, was given a 19 percent salary increase and now makes $72,509, according to county records.
“This is a 80/20 position,” said Greene County Commissioner Tom Koogler. “He’s still going to continue to be the building maintenance director and at the same time be able to help facilitate in being the assistant county administrator … The level of responsibility will be very very slow.”
In January, commissioners approved $55,000 to fund the position for half the year. Huddleson’s appointment is subject to the finalization of contract negotiations, according to meeting minutes, however Greene County Commissioner Tom Koogler said there have been no discussions about a contract.
Huddleson’s promotion comes at a critical time as the commissioners continue to search for a new county administrator to oversee the county’s $49.7 million budget. Greene County Administrator Howard Poston retired Friday after serving more than a decade in the position. Commissioners unanimously appointed a new administrator, Warren Brown — the Sandusky County administrator, on Feb. 11, however Brown declined to accept the job because of the length of the one-year contract.
Huddleson will also serve as interim county administrator until the new administrator is hired.
“I think it’s a good position to have because then you have somebody in training and you’re getting groomed for the job,” said Greene County Commissioner Bob Glaser. “Howard is living proof that it works out very well …”
Poston worked as the assistant county administrator for six years before he was promoted to county administrator in 2003. The assistant administrator position was dissolved after Poston was promoted.
The day after Huddleson’s appointment, Greene County Engineer Bob Geyer sent Koogler an email stating he was “taken aback by the decision.”
“Now at a time when people have not had raises and we look at cutting budgets and personnel every year, we add a new position,” Geyer wrote.
Geyer also said he was disappointed the commissioners appointed Huddleson to the new position.
“I have not had rave reviews from people around the county about him, in fact the opposite,” Geyer wrote. “… I have talked with other elected officials on this and it is pretty much unanimous on my feelings about Brandon.”
Greene County Commissioner Bob Glaser said he suggested Huddleson for the position because he was the “ideal” candidate and he was available to take the job.
“Instead of a snapshot of an interview, …this is a person I’ve gotten to watch work for over a year and he has exhibited all of the qualities you would want to see in an administrator,” Glaser said. “He does exactly what you want him to do, so why would you go through the trouble of going out and trying to find somebody else to take the job. That doesn’t make any sense.”
Huddleson, 40, started his career with the county almost 14 years ago in the sanitary engineering department where he was promoted from operations supervisor to manager. After 10 years, he was promoted to director of the county services department which has a $2.7 million budget and 32 employees. The department is responsible for county building and vehicle maintenance, office supplies, mail and the switchboard.
“The thing I bring to this position is stability for the county,” Huddleson said in response to criticism about his appointment. “What I have is 14 years of experience working in Greene County. I know the operations. I know the people. I have built relationships with the elected officials. I bring a lot of value to this office and will be very valuable in an assistant county administrator role to help whoever our new county administrator is.”
Huddleson said he wants to be county administrator someday, but wants to take some time to learn the job. While he does not have a college degree, the new assistant administrator plans to start taking courses in the fall to earn an accounting degree.
Huddleson was the sole employee considered for the new job. The assistant administrator position was not advertised.
The county typically advertises job vacancies and follows hiring policies and practices that started with a resolution approved by commissioners in the 1990s. It is rare for departments under the commission board to promote someone to a position without advertising the job or conducting interviews, Poston said.
“Those (jobs) are usually lower in the organization,” Poston said. “There have been some that have been posted without competition, but it’s just a handful. It’s usually because it is somebody that has been in the lower level job for a long time and they are very qualified for that position. We needed somebody in that position quickly, so we cut out the competition and filled the lower position through the structured process.”
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