All department chiefs in county are asked to resign, reapply for jobs

Dell says commissioners are `going to take charge'

February 18, 1999|By Brenda J. Buote and Mary Gail Hare | Brenda J. Buote and Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

Carroll Commissioners Donald I. Dell and Julia Walsh Gouge confirmed yesterday that county leaders have asked for the resignation of all their department chiefs.

"We wanted to make sure that the county got back on track," Dell said of the decision that was made late last month. "There was a period of time when the staff, because of a lack of leadership, made decisions on their own."

He did not elaborate.

"We wanted to get [the department chiefs'] attention," Dell said. "We wanted to leave the impression that this Board of Commissioners is going to take charge."

All department heads complied with the board's request, Dell said. Commissioner Robin Bartlett Frazier could not be reached for comment last night.

According to Dell, the commissioners decided during an executive session "two or three weeks ago" to ask the department directors to resign and reapply for their positions.

Gouge said yesterday that she did not agree with the decision.

"Donald and Robin were adamant about this almost from the time they took office," she said. "I personally felt that this was something that was unnecessary. I didn't believe in doing it, and still don't believe in it.

"Asking them to resign and having them worry is not humane," Gouge said. "I think this was way too strong a measure. We need to be compassionate. This is not the way we do things in Carroll County. There is a mechanism there by which we can let them go. In my opinion, that's enough."

All of the department heads' contracts expire at end of June, Gouge said.

Directors serve at the pleasure of board and can be asked to resign at any time.

Philip J. Rovang, the county's director of planning, announced his resignation Friday.

Rovang, who was hired in 1995 to update the county's master plan for growth, said he decided to leave office after realizing the commissioners did not share his vision for development. He left office yesterday, though he remains on the payroll until March 3.

Gouge said the commissioners have interviewed each of the remaining department heads and are "getting things back on line." She said she did not know whether there would be other departures.

Both Dell and Gouge said the shake-up in county government was prompted by the commissioners' efforts to develop a strategic plan for their administration.

Since they took office in December, the commissioners have been meeting with staff to develop the plan, which is expected to be unveiled this month. County budget director Steven D. Powell has said the plan will be used "to get all the forces moving" in the same direction.

Pub Date: 2/18/99

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