By Paul Gable
By a vote of 11-1, Horry County Council members said they would be the sole body to choose the new county administrator.
Council members were presented with a plan for the search process that would have included input into the process by outside groups such as stakeholders and county staff. The process, supported by Chairman Tom Rice, would have had the finalists chosen and ranked by county council. The finalists would next meet with county stakeholders and county staff, who would provide independent input and cause a possible adjustment to the rankings first set by council.
Council member Paul Price led the opposition to including groups other than council in the decision.
“This is a decision for council only to make,” said Price, “We were elected to make these types of decisions and it is our responsibility to do so.”
Council member Carl Schwartzkopf said including county staff in the selection process was unfair for staff members and could later cause problems for those staff members providing input to the selection.
Council member Paul Prince agreed with other members. “I think it is totally our decision,” said Prince.
Price moved an amendment to the proposal to limit the selection process to county council members only. Seconded by council member Marion Foxworth, the amendment passed with Rice the only dissenting vote.
It is unclear why Rice, as chairman, would want to cede even a portion of council responsibility and decision making to outside groups.
However, among the stakeholders Rice wanted included in the decision making process was, reportedly, former Burrouighs and Chapin CEO Doug Wendel. Wendel is currently serving as Chairman of the Board of the county’s Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation and is acting as finance chairman for Rice’s campaign for the 7th Congressional District seat.
It is hoped this was an aberration and that Rice’s campaign for the 7th District seat will not continue to intrude into council chambers.
The administrator position will be advertised for the next 45 days. The county’s Human Resources Department will handle minimum screening of responses and forward to council all candidates who meet minimum qualifications for the position.
The full council, meeting as a committee of the whole, will take the hiring process from there. The committee will further screen candidates, conduct interviews, identify the finalists, select one and make a contractual offer.
A selection is expected to be made by late April 2012. If no candidates survive, the search will be expanded.