County administrator fired
after 3-2 vote
By John M. Ayers
The Gilchrist County Commissioners once again took up the issue of County Administrator Ron McQueen’s job performance on Monday after Commissioner Sharon Langford reported that McQueen was not following the commission’s request that he improve his job performance.
The commissioners had advised McQueen during an August 15 meeting to improve his job performance over the next six months by communicating with county department supervisors and the residents of Gilchrist County more effectively.
On Monday the tide changed, when Commissioner Sharon Langford made a motion to terminate the 17-year Gilchrist County employee, who has held many positions under the board of county commissioners. Langford explained that since the commission’s review of the county administrator several weeks ago, he has not followed the guidelines the board requested of him and he is still answering fire calls when the Fanning Springs Fire Department is dispatched.
“I feel this is something that I have to do, whether the board supports my position with a second or not,” Langford said. “I feel this is something that would be best for Gilchrist County and it is just time to move on.”
Commissioner Langford gave fellow commissioners dates and times when the county administrator had been working as fire chief for the Fanning Springs Fire Department while on the county time clock as Gilchrist County Administrator. Langford also said that McQueen has talked about her to county employees, saying she has a problem with him. The county commissioner explained that she does not have a grudge against McQueen, but she does feel that he should perform his duties as county administrator and meet the guidelines that were placed on him by the board since his August job performance review.
Commissioner D. Ray Harrison, Jr. seconded Langford’s motion for discussion. He then asked if the county administrator had violated something in the probationary clause that the commission placed on him during the job performance review.
McQueen explained to the commission that he had answered a fire call involving the Fanning Springs Fire Department but it was at 5:05 p.m. in the afternoon at Tri-County Nursing Center. He also admitted that he attended a Levy County Commission budget hearing where the board was discussing funding for Fanning Springs fire service.
“I feel that I am making a good faith effort to meet the requirements placed on the position by the Board of County Commissioners,” McQueen said.
Commission Chairman Randy Durden asked if McQueen had met with any of the county departments supervisors to improve the working relationship of the board’s department. McQueen explained that he had met with the supervisor of the road department, but no other department heads. McQueen was then asked why he had not met with more of the county department supervisors.He explained that due to personal health issues and other matters that he is still working to meet with the county department supervisors.
“I just haven’t done that yet,” McQueen responded.
This answer prompted Commissioner Durden to say, “I don’t see the improvements the board asked the county administrator to do, being made.”
McQueen explained, “On a day to day basis, I have been putting more time in on the job.”
The county administrator then told the commission that he would take vacation time from the county administrator’s position for the period of time that he attended the Levy County Commission meeting.
Commissioner Tommy Langford explained that he had talked with the county administrator and that he felt like McQueen was making improvements to meet the board’s demands on the position. Langford went on to say that he felt the county administrator should be given the six-month probationary period to make the necessary improvements that were placed on the position.
“I don’t see how you can keep putting up with the bull crap that you deal with in your position,” Commissioner Kenrick Thomas said. “It will save this board a lot of headache for you to just resign from the county administrator’s position.”
“I don’t feel this board has a vendetta against Ronnie McQueen, but I do feel that some people in the public do,” Commissioner Thomas said.
After more discussion, Commissioner Durden said that he just doesn’t see the improvement required by the county commission being made.
Commissioner Harrison agreed with Commissioner Tommy Langford, explaining that he felt the board should give the county administrator the six-month probationary period they had agreed upon, which would have been time to work out the problems.
The commission chairman called for a vote and commissioners Sharon Langford, Kenrick Thomas and Randy Durden voted in favor of the action, while Commissioners Harrison and Tommy Langford vote no on the motion to terminate the county administrator immediately.
McQueen then stood and addressed the commission, “I have put a lot of heart and soul into this county and I have never been ashamed of the county commissioners, but I am tonight.”
McQueen then left the meeting and the position he held as county administrator.
Charlie Perez, former Gilchrist County fire chief, then addressed the commission to ask the board to provide McQueen with a severance package.
The board agreed to consider a severance package and set a special meeting for 4 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 26 to determine who will be the interim county administrator.