BOC shoots down proposed department mergers

JONESBORO — Bids to consolidate four county departments into two failed during a pair of split votes Tuesday.

Measures were on the table to merge the Fleet Maintenance Department with the Central Services Department, and to fold the Senior Services Department into the Parks and Recreation Department. The fact that the proposals were brought forward for a vote was not a surprise since Central Service Director Theodis Locke and Parks and Recreation Director Detrick Stanford made presentations about possible mergers earlier this month.

What came as a shock was the inclusion of 20 percent pay raises for Locke and Stanford if the measures had passed. Human Resources Director Renee Bright said Locke’s salary would have increased to more than $112,000, which elicited gasps from residents in the audience.

No salary figure was given for Stanford. However, while Commissioner Shana Rooks was raising questions about the proposals, she indicated his salary could have gone up by about $25,000, which elicited another round of gasps from residents attending the meeting.

The proposed mergers were defeated in separate 2-3 votes, with Rooks, Chairman Jeff Turner and Vice-Chairman Michael Edmondson voting against the mergers.

When the proposed merger of senior services into parks and recreation was rejected, employees of senior centers in the county clapped and cheered.