Brown a man in the middle

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 12, 1999

Most people only see Charlie Brown once a year – during county budget season.

As Adams County administrator, Brown presents the county’s budget each year and invariably takes intense criticism for it. This year was no exception, with two public hearings on the county budget focusing on proposed pay raises for county employees. Supervisors eventually passed the $24.9 million budget – without the pay raises.

The 71-year-old Brown was caught once again in the unenviable position of man in the middle.

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&uot;There’s nothing I can do about that,&uot; Brown said, shaking his head.

His current philosophy for managing criticism is to act and budget in what he sees as the best interest of the county and take whatever response comes.

&uot;It is difficult during budget times to have people come into the hearings who may know less than 1 percent of what he knows and have them speak to Charlie as if they’re all wise and he’s an idiot,&uot; said Marion Smith, board attorney.

Virginia Salmon, president of the Adams County Board of Supervisors, said Brown has a unique genius for budgets.

&uot;A prime example of his genius is the peeling of what we thought was the proposed budget this year,&uot; Salmon said. &uot;I don’t know that he slept.&uot;

Brown graduated from Ole Miss in 1950 with a bachelor’s degree in accounting. His first job was as an accountant at Armstrong Tire & Rubber Company, now Titan Tire. He also worked as an accountant for California Company, a division of Chevron. &uot;I was comptroller and vice president for Callon Petroleum Company for 32 years, and then the oil business went sour,&uot; he said.

Brown&160;moved briefly to Florida and helped a friend set up a business there, and then came back here to work as a county administrator.

&uot;There’s definitely no place like home,&uot; Brown said.

A 1946 graduate of Natchez High School, Brown said Natchez will always be home for him.

&uot;Charlie is one of the most intensely honest people I know. He’s an honest man,&uot; said Bo Truly, local attorney and longtime friend of Brown’s. &uot;He’s also a big Ole Miss fan. That’s how we met over 40 years ago. I was a student and he was a graduate returning for the games. We’ve been friends ever since.&uot;

Brown has been county administrator since July 1989 when Adams County adopted the unit system.

&uot;We were starting from scratch back then. I knew accounting but had to learn about government and the state statutes,&uot; Brown said. &uot;I really got familiar with the statutes – I was constantly going through law books.&uot;

Adams County Chancery Clerk Tommy O’Beirne said few people realize the amount of work Brown does for the county.

&uot;A lot of the work he does, people don’t see,&uot; O’Beirne said. &uot;He’s a steady worker. He looks into all the financing available for the county to find the best way to obtain funds.&uot;

Supervisor Darryl Grennell said Brown’s intense knowledge of taxes and finances makes him a critical resource for the board of supervisors. &uot;As far as the tax system for the county, he knows it blind,&uot; Grennell said. &uot;He has a genuine concern for this county.&uot;

In the early days in the county administration office, Brown had to develop a personnel policy for the county. By networking with other county administrators, he was able to draw on other county policies as well as gain direction from the Adams County Board of Supervisors.

Brown came into his role as county administrator at the height of budget season.

&uot;So I learned really fast,&uot; Brown said, laughing.

Since Brown has been county administrator, he said there has been one constant – scarcity of funding. &uot;Since I’ve been with the county, it’s been a struggle every year balancing the budget,&uot; he said. &uot;We haven’t seen the growth that we would like to. Our tax base has increased which helps a little.&uot;

Some recent county projects have been mandated by the government – like the juvenile justice facility. &uot;With projects like that, we have to finance them over a period of time,&uot; Brown said.

If Adams County saw more growth in industrial sectors, balancing the budget without increasing taxes would be less of a struggle, Brown said.

&uot;So many solutions to problems in the county require money,&uot; he said.

And there’s the perennial question – where is it going to come from?

Brown works 50 to 60 hours a week during budget season, July through September, trying to make county needs and county funding match.

‘The county administrator’s job is a very complex and responsible position,&uot; Salmon said. &uot;Charlie brings absolute and total dedication to it. His in-depth knowledge is where he really shines. He’s a master of numbers.&uot;

Especially during budget time, Brown said he prefers working evenings and weekends because he has more uninterrupted time to concentrate on the job at hand. &uot;I can turn up my music and just work,&uot; he said.

Outside of the office, Charlie enjoys jogging and following Ole Miss sports. He also likes many forms of music – primarily jazz.

A new interest is working with his wife Robyn to restore Engelside, an 1840 antebellum house in Washington.

&uot;My uncle left me the house and enough money to maintain it,&uot; Brown said.

&uot;I never thought I’d be renovating a house,&uot; he laughed. &uot;It just goes to show you, you never know what’s around the corner.&uot;

Charlie and his wife Robyn each have two sons from previous marriages. The four sons produced six grandchildren.