County hires new administrator

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 5, 2011

NATCHEZ — Adams County will no longer be without an administrator, but the new hire will cost the county more than some supervisors were willing to pay.

In a 3-2 vote, the Adams County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday at their regular board meeting to hire Paul T. Rosson of Lawrence County, Tenn., as county administrator for $75,000 per year.

District 5 Supervisor S.E. “Spanky” Felter said he voted against hiring Rosson because the salary negotiated would be too high compared to the average income of Adams County residents.

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“I vote no. (Rosson’s proposed salary is) $22,000 more than the last county administrator,” Felter said.

District 1 Supervisor Mike Lazarus said Rosson was worth the money.

“This is one of the most important positions. There were good candidates, but this guy was better,” Lazarus said.

Felter said Adams County Sheriff’s Office deputies play important roles for the county that threaten their own lives for much less money.

When Rosson was interviewed, he originally asked for more than $80,000 and told the board $78,000 was the minimum he was willing accept, Board President Darryl Grennell said.

Each board member had a copy of Rosson’s strategic plan at Tuesday’s meeting, which the board requested from Rosson to help them make a decision.

Rosson also included a draft of a proposed job contract along with his five-page strategic plan.

Attorney Bobby Cox said entering a contract with Rosson was unnecessary because a state statute would already address the personnel policies of the administrator position.

District 2 Supervisor Henry Watts also voted against hiring Rosson because of the proposed salary, but he said he liked Rosson as a candidate.

“I do appreciate what he’s done (by providing the plan and contract), it tells me he is smart and knows what’s going on . . . I have a problem with paying him $75,000,” Watts said.

The board passed a motion to offer Rosson $75,000 for the job. Lazarus, Grennell and District 3 Supervisor Thomas “Boo” Campbell voted in favor of the motion.

Grennell said Rosson accepted the job over the phone and should begin work Feb. 1.

Rosson currently works as a program monitor at the department of administration and finance for the State of Tennessee.

“I’m very excited,” Rosson said of being offered the job.

“I feel I have a lot to offer Adams County, and I want it understood that it’s a team effort from the community to make Natchez all it can be.”

Rosson said he researched Adams County extensively before he applied for the position.

Rosson said the concept and inception of Natchez Inc., the revamped economic development engine, was one aspect that attracted him to Adams County.

“And also your history there as one of the oldest counties in Mississippi,” Rosson added.

He said he hopes his experience with grants will help him acquire grants for Adams County.

Rosson’s No. 1 priority for the county, however, will be improving the bond rating by increasing the general fund balance, he said.

“I believe in centralization and consolidation. This will make for cost saving and (more) efficient government,” Rosson said in the plan he provided to the board.

Rosson also commented on his salary negotiations.

“It’s a fair price for what Adams County is going to be getting,” he said.

“I’m not coming here to save Natchez or Adams County, but I’ll just be someone there daily, working with people and maximizing (the county’s) resources.

“The daily operation of government is going to determine our success.”

Rosson said he will meet with board members Monday in Jackson at a supervisors and county administrator training session.

He said the program in Jackson should allow him to become acquainted with board members and learn about the subtle differences between Tennessee and Mississippi law that are applicable to his position.