Commission Jumps Into 2013

The first Escambia County Commission meeting of 2013 is scheduled for tomorrow, with commissioners taking up a range of issues, including the search for a county administrator and restructuring of the RESTORE Act advisory committee.

Since firing the former county administrator in the fall, the commission has brought on one-time administrator George Touart as interim and begun discussing the process for securing a permanent candidate. Tomorrow, the commission will consider the timeline for finding an administrator, as well as the position’s salary range.

Formalizing discussions had in past meetings, the commission is expected to authorize a recruitment start-date of Jan. 3, meaning immediately, and according to the meeting agenda the board will “shoot for the May-June time frame” to have someone in place. Commissioners are looking to advertise a salary in the $123,000 to $150,000 range.

The commission will also be considering approving several changes to the county’s RESTORE Act advisory committee. The committee is being formed to assist commissioners in determining how best to spend funds expected from Clean Water Act fines levied against BP for the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

In December, commissioners decided to expand the advisory committee from seven members to nine. They also specified how each member of the committee will be selected.

If the restructured specifics of the committee are approved, changes will include: two added seats (to be selected by commissioners from a pool provided by administration); a business representative will be chosen by commission Chairman Gene Valentino; a financial representative will be chosen by Commissioner Steven Barry; a governmental representative will be chosen by Commissioner Grover Robinson; a transportation representative will be chosen by Commissioner Wilson Robertson; an at-large citizen representative will be chosen by Vice Chairman Lumon May.

The two remaining seats on the committee will go to a representative of the city of Pensacola and someone representing area environmental organizations. These seats, and their selection process, remained unchanged during the recent restructuring conversation.

Also related to the 2010 oil spill and the RESTORE money, the commission will consider  giving Robinson the go-ahead to run for the chairman’s seat of Florida’s 23-County Gulf Consortium. The commissioner has been heavily involved with issues relating to the spill and restoration efforts.

Tomorrow’s morning work session begins at 9 a.m. at the county’s downtown governmental complex. The regular meeting is at 5:30 p.m., with public forum scheduled for 4:30 p.m.