December 19, 2013 9:45:21 AM
Three candidates emerged as finalists for Starkville's vacant chief administrative officer's position Tuesday.
The three names are: Taylor Adams, Starkville's city clerk and finance director; Michael Anderson, a regional broadband coordinator with Mississippi's Extension Broadband Education and Adoption Team (e-BEAT); and Andrew Ellard, an employee of Hattiesburg's Community Development Division and Department of Federal and State Programs.
Interviews will be held Jan. 7 before that day's board of aldermen meeting.
The position was vacated when aldermen ousted former CAO Lynn Spruill in July after Mayor Parker Wiseman attempted to preserve the long-serving administrator's job. The board defeated Wiseman's veto of a resolution ordering her to clean out her desk. Spruill was the only department head not reappointed back to their new position.
Twenty-two candidates applied for the position, Personnel Director Randy Boyd said Wednesday. Aldermen previously began the process to fill the CAO position in late November when the board approved a retooled job description, increased salary and advertising.
Job functions, as approved last month by the board, include providing oversight for city departments, facilitating internal communication and managing grants and special funding not specific to individual departments. The incoming CAO will also "perform other duties as assigned by the mayor and/or board of aldermen."
Potential candidates were required to hold bachelor's degrees in areas related to the CAO's duties and have multiple years of administrative experience within a local government.
The position is slated to receive a salary grade 19 pay scale of $71,804-$95,562. The raise, Ward 5 Alderman Scott Maynard previously said, was implemented to make the job opening more competitive. Spurill's salary did not eclipse the $70,000 mark.
The city collected applications through Dec. 10.
"I am very pleased to be wrapping up this search," Maynard said. "We have three quality candidates to consider, and each brings an advanced level of education and years of experience to the table. This is an important hire for the city. Our goal is to make sure we have the right person going forward."
Adams joined the city in 2012 after the board of aldermen renamed the city clerk's position to "Director of Finance/City Clerk" and increased its pay scale from a grade 15 to a grade 18. Former City Clerk Markeeta Outlaw, who served with the city for almost 30 years, retired on June 1 of that year.
Adams' job functions have increased since Spruill left her post. In July, the board assigned him with only one of her formal job functions - constructing meeting agendas - while other functions went informally assigned.
On Tuesday, aldermen tapped Adams to run the department of sanitation on a 10-day basis beginning Thursday when that department head, Emma Gandy, begins a board-assigned suspension.
"I am both flattered and honored to be recognized by the mayor and board as a finalist for the position," Adams said.
He holds a business administration degree from MSU and a master's degree in the same discipline from Holt International Business School Adams was the 2011 Mississippi Association of Governmental Purchasing and Property Agents president and 2012 Mississippi Purchasing Manager of the Year award recipient.
Adams has more than 13 years of management experience in sales, purchasing, public service and finance.
Anderson holds a bachelor's and master's degree from Mississippi State University. He is currently pursuing a doctorate from the university. A previous Decatur alderman, he now serves as one of six coordinators to implement the governor's broadband initiative.
e-Beat, made possible by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, aims to help the state broaden its community and economic development opportunities.
Anderson's career spans 30 years of management positions.
He and Ward 7 Alderman Henry Vaughn previously spoke at a Mississippi Municipal League Conference, Anderson said Wednesday, where the Starkville representative approached him about potential economic development possibilities in the city. Anderson and Vaughn have known each other for years.
"Eventually...I will retire here. My wife is from Starkville, I have two daughters at MSU and I have real estate holdings here," he said.
Ellard received a bachelor's degree in public affairs management from Indiana University and a master's degree in administration from Central Michigan University. He has 12 years of experience in management, communications and finance.
As someone who spent his childhood in Starkville and attended the city's public schools, Ellard said he looks at the community fondly.
"Starkville is near and dear to me," he said. "When the opportunity opened, it was something I couldn't pass up."
Filling the CAO position will allow aldermen to focus on new hires for its police and community development departments, Maynard said.
Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch
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