County Manager Harry Jones has told employees he intends to remain on the job until the end of 2015, county officials said Tuesday.
The announcement came the morning before Jones was set to talk about his future with county commissioners.
Some commissioners had speculated that Jones, who has been increasingly at odds with some of his bosses, might offer a proposal to step down earlier.
Jones has previously told county commissioners he wanted to work until the end of 2015, when hes 65.
The county manager does have at least three supporters on the nine-member board. But disputes with Jones largely over his management style have other commissioners wanting a change sooner.
One commissioner said the board wouldnt take any action Tuesday.
Commissioners Chairwoman Pat Cotham, a Democrat, declined to discuss the issue. This is all a personnel matter and I am not at liberty to talk about it, she said.
But its clear that she and other commissioners havent been happy with Jones leadership.
Tension between Jones and the board grew after commissioners denied Jones a pay raise in November.
Months of public criticism over the flawed 2011 revaluation were aimed mostly at a perceived lack of supervision by Jones and top administrators. In early January, Cotham and other commissioners were upset after the county nearly lost oversight of millions of dollars in federal Medicaid money for mental health services.
Jones hired an outside lawyer and the county successfully fought the states decision to transfer the money to an out-of-county agency.
Still, some commissioners were upset that they learned about the matter when the public did and admonished Jones for what they called a continuing pattern of withholding important information from the board.
Then last week, Cotham criticized Jones and his managers again for delaying by more than four months their recruitment of a new director for the countys troubled Department of Social Services. The agency has been without a director since September.
Republican Commissioner Matthew Ridenhour said Jones has achieved some great successes during his 13 years as county manager.
But in recent years, there have been a number of challenges, said Ridenhour, who declined to talk about Tuesdays meeting. Regardless of when his tenure ends with the county, Id like to see him end on a positive note.
Jones has complained that Cotham wont return his calls.
In an email to commissioners last Friday, Jones thanked Cotham for finally connecting to me. Not on the matter I have called you about, however.
In the same email, he said board clerk Janice Paige had called her without the courtesy of a return call.
One commissioner said Jones told the board two weeks ago he was going to consult with a lawyer and would be prepared to talk about his job on Tuesday.
Commissioner Bill James, a Republican, declined to comment on the Tuesday meeting. But he said concerns over Jones performance have been a factor in splitting the boards six Democrats into two bickering factions.
Harry is, in essence, a cause of fracture on the board, especially among the Democrats, James said. Three want Harry to stay, no matter what. Three dont.
Jones supporters on the board Commissioners George Dunlap, Dumont Clarke and Vice Chair Kim Ratliff have taken verbal shots at Cotham. At a board meeting in February, Ratliff publicly chided Cotham for taking part in a meeting with two other commissioners and county-hired revaluation consultants.
It seems as if there is a double standard here, Ratliff wrote in an email. As the chair (Cotham) in the past has talked about a lack of communication from the county manager and staff, she in fact is doing the same.
She urged board members to stop micromanaging Jones and publicly berating staff.
Cotham said the meeting was requested by property owners, who brought the consultants from Pearsons Appraisal Service. They requested the meeting, and Ill meet with anyone who wants to meet with me, she said. Thats what we do as public servants.
James has watched the sniping with a certain bemusement.
Usually, its the Democrats ganging up on the Republicans and normally on me, he said. Its unusual that a faction of the Democrats are in a position that theyre beating up on a Democratic chairman they just elected.
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