Search begins for Vick’s replacement

Published 9:13am Monday, August 26, 2013

JACKSON – Help wanted!

Following discussion, centered on need and a revenue stream to pay for the position, the Northampton County Board of Commissioners approved a request made by County Manager Ken Creque to hire an Assistant Finance Officer.

In his presentation to the Commissioners at their Aug. 19 meeting, Creque said the assistant’s position is necessary as that individual will be trained to take over Dot Vick’s job once she retires in the next few months. Vick is the county’s longtime Finance Officer.

The requested salary range for the assistant’s position is   $61,169 to $65,872 annually. Creque said the salary is based on qualifications of the applicant. He said a list of duties expected of the Assistant Finance Officer are outlined in detail.

There are minimum education/experience requirements for the new position. Creque said a qualified applicant should be a graduate of a recognized four-year college or university with a BA degree in accounting, public administration (or closely related field), finance and/or business administration, with at least two years of responsible professional experience, preferably in a governmental agency. A well qualified applicant would be one that fits all of the above criteria, but needs at least double the amount of professional experience. Those fitting the highly qualified skill set need to hold a Masters Degree in accounting or finance, preferably someone who is a CPA with five years of experience, at least two of which were in a supervisory role.

“Depending on how they meet these basic qualifications will determine where they fall on what we’re offering,” Creque said. “I believe with the salary range we’re offering for this position, we should receive a number of highly qualified applicants.”

Commissioner Joe Barrett asked Creque of where the money was coming from to pay for this new position.

“The money will come from the savings we’ll get once the current Finance Officer retires,” Creque replied. “Once this person is hired and trained to fill the Finance Officer’s position, our current Finance Officer will retire. The budget for that department includes the current Finance Officer’s salary for a full year.”

“But what about in between, the time that the Finance Officer is still here to train her assistant to the time she actually leaves, where are you getting that money,” Barrett inquired.

“That is coming directly out of the current Finance Department salaries; the difference between what is offered here (for the assistant’s position) and what the current Finance Officer receives is so great that for a short period of time you can pay both,” Creque explained.

“There might be people in the general public who might pose this question – Northampton County has survived for this long length of time without an assistant anything,” observed Commissioner Virginia Spruill. “Why is it now necessary that we need this position?”

“Actually, this position is only intended to fill the Finance Officer’s position once she retires,” Creque noted. “At that point, the (assistant’s) position will become vacant, depending upon the recommendations of the new Finance Officer. It is my belief from talking with the current Finance Officer that they have more of a need for lower level personnel to create a greater segregation of duties within that department.”

Commissioner Fannie Greene asked of the timetable of current Finance Officer’s retirement.

“I just spoke with her, she wants to stay on long enough to ensure that her assistant is trained and ready to roll,” Creque said.

As far as a timeline is concerned, Creque said the assistant’s position will be advertised with a closing date of Sept. 16. Interviews will be conducted at the end of September into early October; a job offer will be made and hopefully the position will be filled by the end of October.

“From that point, we’re looking at 30-to-45 days of training and afterwards we’ll be done,” he said.

“At the salary we’re listing, that would be a highly, highly qualified person,” said Commission Chairman Robert Carter.

Creque said the commissioners will make the final determination on the new hire.

“You will have all the background information on the applicants,” Creque stated. “This salary range is for a particular level of expertise. Once the time comes, that person will become the Finance Officer, so basically that’s the job we’re looking to fill. We’re advertising and recruiting applications for one job, but looking to fill another job. The assistant’s position is only short-term.”

On a motion from Spruill and a second from Greene, and a subsequent 5-0 vote, Creque was granted permission to move forward to advertise the position.

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