The Carroll County Board of Supervisors will wait until new board members take office in January 2016 before hiring a replacement for County Administrator Gary Larrowe.
Larrowe, who was hired Sept. 23 as the new county administrator for Botetourt County, announced his resignation as Carroll’s county administrator the following day. Carroll County Board of Supervisors Chairman Phil McCraw addressed the situation Sept. 29 during a special called meeting of supervisors. McCraw said Larrowe gave him his letter of resignation the previous week, which states Larrowe’s last day with Carroll will be Dec. 31.
“I wanted to do two things at this meeting tonight. One thing is to reiterate that Gary will be our county administrator until December 31 of this year,” McCraw said. “The second thing I would love for us to do if at all possible is to direct staff to come up with some type of advertisement and put out the kind of particulars we need to put out to get the process started to hire a county administrator. I am not in any hurry for this hiring to be done, however I would love for our staff to be able to come up with this for our perusal for us to be able to look over at our October board meeting.”
McCraw said that would allow the board to make changes to proposed advertising if desired. With the November 3 general election looming, Carroll County will have at least one new supervisor (Supervisor At-Large Sam Dickson didn’t seek re-election) and possibly two (Sulphur Springs District Supervisor David Hutchins is opposed by Rex Hill).
“I think when we get all of this started, we want to take plenty of time and vet all these things properly. I think we need to wait until our new board is seated in January before we start trying to break it down and hire a new county administrator,” McCraw said. “And if possible, I would really appreciate a motion we do this.”
Supervisor Joshua Hendrick then made a motion for staff to prepare a job description to present to the board at its October 12 meeting, as well as options for advertising and possible costs. Supervisor Bob Martin seconded the motion, which passed unanimously.
McCraw said supervisors would also need to consider financial factors and other aspects in hiring a new administrator. Hendrick said Carroll also needs to look at a job description for a new county administrator, noting that Larrowe also served as Executive Director of the Carroll County Public Service Authority (PSA), the Industrial Development Authority (IDA) and other roles.
Supervisor Bob Martin expressed concerns of a performance agreement contract Carroll signed with Larrowe on Nov. 21, 2011. Because of that, he said he was pleased the board decided to wait until new board members are seated before a new county administrator is hired. Martin alluded to November 2011 when three new board members were elected. After the election but prior to the time the three new board members took office, the board at that time went forward with a performance agreement contract with Larrowe.
“Regardless of whether you have an agreement or not, I realize the county administrator still serves at the pleasure of a 4-2 vote. I think it’s important we do wait until after the next election. I note that this contract was signed on November 21, 2011,” Martin said. “And it is seems that the old board was very active about changing procedures and bylaws right after three of the members got beat on November 2 during that time. And this November 21 agreement falls in place with that same concern. I like the idea very much and was going to suggest that we not jump in to trying to hire somebody, that we wait until after the next election. That still gives us two months to interview and so forth.”
Martin said he felt like “the little red-headed stepchild” when he took office nearly four years ago, adding that Hendrick probably felt the same way. Regardless, he said he felt it was a great idea to wait until January so new board members could be involved in the hiring process.
Supervisor Dr. Tom Littrell said he was saddened to hear of Larrowe’s departure, but wished Gary the best in his future endeavors.
“We can never replace him, but we have to have someone to replace his job description,” Littrell said.
Dickson also thought it was a good idea for the board to wait until January before making a hire. The current board can work to get advance notice out, however, since there will be a vacancy soon. As Chairman of the Carroll PSA, he wondered what kind of action it needed to take since Larrowe also serves as executive director of the Authority.
“What I am thinking is to not making any drastic changes to make sure everything rolls good for the next couple of months and wait until January and they can make whatever changes need to be made,” Dickson said.
Larrowe replied that he will serve the county until Dec. 31, but he would be happy to do whatever the PSA wanted to do as far as moving forward.
“We have good folks in the PSA and since (the) Cliffview (project) is already under contract, construction, there wouldn’t be any huge issues that would necessitate funding. You can wait if you choose to do so or act before December 31.”
Dickson said it would probably be best to run it by the PSA board during its October meeting. Hendrick asked if the board wanted the next administrator to serve in the same capacity Larrowe did with the PSA and IDA.
“Gary didn’t start out doing all this. He grew into it. There was a director of the PSA, somebody working there (when Larrowe was hired as administrator). That didn’t happen overnight,” Hendrick said. “I think even an experienced administrator that is not familiar with this situation, it would be tough for them to walk in on day one. I think that is a discussion we as a board need to have.”
Supervisor David Hutchins said he was “shocked, but not surprised” by Larrowe’s departure. Hutchins said Larrowe has had numerous offers over the past 18 months, some of them “quite lucrative.”
Addressing Martin’s claim of being a red-headed stepchild, McCraw said he came on the board the same time as Martin and Hendrick.
“So in that respect I was a stepchild, too,” McCraw said. “My hair wasn’t red, but I just fell in and tried to work as best as I could for the good of the county.”
Allen Worrell can be reached at (276) 779-4062 or on Twitter@AWorrellTCN