Bourey chosen to be new county manager
Published: Tuesday, May 21, 2013 at 1:17 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, May 21, 2013 at 7:18 p.m.
A monthslong search for a new county manager ended Tuesday when the Alachua County Commission selected James Bourey of Greenville, S.C., as its top choice.
Bourey was one of five finalists who visited the county last week to interview for the position, which has been filled by Acting County Manager Rick Drummond since longtime leader Randall Reid left in January 2012 to take the same job in Sarasota County.
Bourey, who goes by Jim, has around 35 years of local government experience and has worked as the city manager in Greenville, the county administrator in Hennepin County, Minn., and the senior assistant county administrator in Hillsborough County. Now he works at Elliott Davis, an accounting and consulting firm in Greenville, as the director of corporate development.
Bourey came in first place in both sets of rankings conducted among county commissioners during Tuesday's meeting. Stockton Whitten, a University of Florida alumnus and former Alachua County intern who is the deputy county manager in Brevard County, came in second, while Charles Oliver, who goes by Randy, came in third.
Oliver has worked as the county administrator in Escambia County but is now the CEO of Oliver & Associates in Pensacola. Like Bourey, he has also served as city manager in Greenville.
Although Bourey ultimately became the board's first choice, commissioners said they were pleased with all the finalists.
"I think they all have the competence and the experience to do the job, so I don't think we can go terribly wrong," Commissioner Mike Byerly said.
To rank the candidates, Byerly told the 25 or so people at the meeting that he looked at which candidates were high-energy, as Commissioner Lee Pinkoson did, as well as whether they had a history of taking the initiative on issues.
"Government, like any good business, should be continually striving to improve and to innovate," Byerly said.
Commissioner Susan Baird said she looked closely at whether the candidates have filled the role of city or county manager in the past.
Several residents spoke up in support of Whitten during the meeting. Former Commissioners Cynthia Moore Chestnut and Rodney Long both said he was the best fit for the role, and Evelyn Foxx, president of the local branch of the NAACP, told the board it should consider his stability as a long-term hire since he has worked with Brevard County for almost 20 years.
Long commended the commission for its transparency in the selection process and for inviting the public to participate. "I think this is what good government is all about," he said.
Pastor Kevin Thorpe of Faith Missionary Baptist Church emphasized the need for the county to make its workforce more diverse. He questioned whether the view of the county dais from the back of the room provides an accurate representation of the community and said hiring Whitten would let the county bring in a well-qualified candidate and add to the diversity of the dais in one move.
To pick their No. 1 finalist, commissioners first numbered their top three candidates, which were Bourey, Whitten and Oliver overall. They ranked those three in a second tally that excluded the other two candidates — David Jones, county administrator in Polk County, Iowa, and Kenneth Griffin, a private-sector engineer from Tampa.
In the first ranking, Byerly and Pinkoson made Bourey their first choice, Charles "Chuck" Chestnut and Robert "Hutch" Hutchinson picked Whitten as their favorite and Baird preferred Oliver above the others.
In the second and final ranking, Bourey was ranked first by Byerly, Pinkoson and Baird while Chestnut and Hutchinson kept Whitten as theirs.
The commission unanimously voted to begin negotiations with Bourey. If it can't reach an agreement, the county will negotiate with Whitten.
Commissioners also reached a consensus on a contract that Byerly and county staff can present to Bourey. They designated a base salary of $160,000 and an overall compensation package, including various benefits, totaling about $227,000.
Reid's overall package when he left was around $239,000, said Drummond, who earns a $160,000 salary.
Although the board unanimously approved the contract at the end of the meeting, earlier in the proceedings it approved those base salary and compensation package values in a 3-2 vote with Chestnut and Hutchinson in dissent.
Chestnut referred at one point to the $160,000 salary as a floor before Byerly corrected him, saying it was a ceiling. "So we are lowballing candidates," Chestnut said.
Byerly disagreed, emphasizing the need to look at the entire package. Pinkoson said he cares more about looking at the overall value of the package than how that money is distributed among the base salary and other benefits.
Bourey's current private-sector salary is about $191,000, Drummond said, and he made $167,000 plus benefits when he worked with the city of Greenville.
The county will begin negotiating with Bourey as soon as possible. If Bourey requests more money than the contract allows, the board can decide whether to raise its ceiling or begin negotiations with Whitten.
Contact Morgan Watkins at 338-3104 or firstname.lastname@example.org.