The Sarasota County Commission moved Tuesday to offer Interim County Administrator Thomas Harmer a permanent job, praising the 55-year-old former fire chief's job performance during his first three months in the county's top administrative position, as well as his positive effect on county staff morale.
The Hollywood native stepped in to lead Sarasota County as interim county administrator in October following the County Commission's decision to remove former County Administrator Randall Reid from the post after less than two years on the job. Harmer's interim title was supposed to last six months while county commissioners searched for Reid's permanent replacement.
Tuesday's discussion picked up where county commissioners left off at a workshop session last October, when they voted 5-0 to keep Harmer in as interim county administrator for a period of at least six months, with the option to revisit his appointment and job performance after three months.
Tuesday's County Commission meeting was supposed to be the three-month review of Harmer's job performance agreed upon in October, but Commissioner Joe Barbetta made the motion to strip "interim" from Harmer's job title and offer him the job permanently.
"I want to thank Mr. Harmer for tackling this process from the day he got the call," Barbetta said. "It doesn't appear we missed a beat, and it appears things are going extremely well."
Spurred by Barbetta's motion, commissioners then rattled off their praise for Harmer, citing his positive effect on improving county staff morale and high-marks for his performance from area residents.
Commissioner Carolyn Mason said that she had received unsolicited feedback from area residents praising Harmer's performance during the last three months. "I'm a happy camper," Mason said.
"I have also received unsolicited comments from (county) staff who say their confidence level has been raised, and the confidence of the organization in general has risen greatly," added Commissioner Christine Robinson. "I've been impressed by the work you've done, and the calming effect you've had on the organization."
Harmer thanked the county commissioners for offering him the permanent role, adding that despite not having sought out the job of permanent county administrator, his "interest in the position has grown."
"I'm excited about the opportunity, and I'm looking forward to coming back to you with a proposed contract," Harmer said.
Harmer's permanent role will become official after county commissioners approve Harmer's contract proposal, which he will draft with county legal guidance.
Contact Nolan Peterson at firstname.lastname@example.org
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