Personnel promoted as county restructures water department


By Jon Hawley
Staff Writer

Monday, November 13, 2017

Pasquotank County is seeing a change in personnel responsibilities as it reorganizes the water department and prepares to replace high-level people in other departments.

County commissioners and County Manager Rodney Bunch discussed the various changes during a meeting earlier this week. Commissioners agreed to promotions and reshuffled duties in the water department, and learned that the county's personnel director and deputy finance officer will soon retire.

That's all in addition to Bunch himself planning to retire in March.

The following is a recap of the personnel changes:

Water Department

Commissioners on Monday allowed promotions for plant operators David Chesson and Charles Lewis to maintenance supervisor and senior plant operator, respectively. The promotions represent an almost $13,000 raise for Chesson, who will now make about $45,500 a year, and an almost $5,000 raise for Lewis, who will now make about $38,000 a year.

Bunch and Water Superintendent David Smithson explained the promotions will give Chesson and Lewis duties once performed by Ronny Jennings, who retired in September as assistant water superintendent. As a 30-year-plus employee, Jennings didn’t hand off duties as the water system grew, but today some of his work should be redistributed, Bunch said.

Chesson had already taken over maintenance work after Jennings retired, making him qualified for the position, while Lewis will now be considered “operator in charge” and have to sign off on regularly filed state reports, Bunch also said.

Bunch also clarified in an email later that Chesson and Lewis will still carry out their prior duties, meaning the county doesn’t need to hire more plant operators.

Commissioners also met Jennings' replacement as assistant water superintendent, Michael Harris, who was promoted from chief water plant operator. Noting Harris wasn't the only applicant for assistant water superintendent, Bunch said he's speaking with the runner-up for the chief water plant operator position.

In an email, Bunch also reported Harris is being paid $58,537 a year as assistant water superintendent, less than the $63,103 Jennings made due to years of service.

Personnel Director

Bunch also reported that Margaret Simpson, the county's personnel director for 15 years, is planning to retire next month. Though not asking commissioners for action Monday, Bunch said his intent is to promote Simpson's assistant, Gayle McCullen, to the position. Bunch praised her as hard-working and “eager to grow,” and said he planned to formally recommend that.

Bunch also reported Simpson is paid about $56,000 a year, while McCullen makes about $33,000. Bunch also noted to commissioners that, if she's promoted, the county will have to replace her. The starting salary for personnel director assistant is almost $27,000.

Deputy Finance Officer

Bunch also asked commissioners to increase the base salary, or grade level, for the deputy finance officer position, from which Delores Hague is retiring this month. Commissioners agreed to raise the position from Grade 20 to 25, going from about $37,500 to $44,000. Arguing Grade 25 was more appropriate for the position, Bunch said other Grade 25 positions are Social Worker Administrator I – a position below director of social services – assistant emergency medical services director, geographic information systems coordinator and sheriff's department captain.

Bunch also said that, with the position's salary increased, he planned to offer the position to a candidate he said had accounting experience in the private sector and working with contracts for the US Coast Guard. He also praised her for having “tremendous knowledge of accounting software packages,” which would be an asset to the office.

Commissioners also noted that Finance Officer Sheri Small is planning to retire in about four years. Asked if the deputy finance officer would be trained to replace her, Small said that, if the deputy is interested, she would have the person get finance officer certification.

Small also noted that her second-most senior employee, whom Bunch later identified as Sharon Spence, is planning to retire in four years as well; that pending retirement is why she chose not to apply for deputy finance officer, Small told commissioners.