After six months of searching for a full-time executive director, the Conyers-Rockdale Economic Development Council will go back to the beginning and re-advertise the position after the Development Authority indicated it could add more to the salary package to make it more competitive.
The Rockdale County Development Authority, the vehicle which issues special bonds and financial instruments to attract economic development, met Tuesday in a called meeting to discuss the issue.
The position had originally been advertised with a salary range of $60,000 to $80,000.
The previous executive director, Glenn Sears, who retired at the end of 2012, had received an annual salary of about $60,000 for what was technically a part-time, 30-hour per week position.
When the original advertisement went out, about 15 applications were received. By July, that had been narrowed to five candidates, with one dropping out.
Meanwhile, Mike Sullivan, who chairs the Development Authority and also sits on the CREDC steering committee for the executive director search along with Conyers Mayor Randy Mills, County Chairman Richard Oden, and City Councilman Vince Evans, said he had interviewed economic development professionals in the metro-Atlanta area and had come away with a consensus that about $90,000 to $100,000 annual salary was needed for a full time ED director.
“We need a full-time professional,” said Sullivan. “This is not a place to learn the job.”
Development Authority member Roland Vaughn questioned why a study on the salary range had not been done before the advertisement.
Sullivan said the discussion of the Development Authority pitching in additional funds developed over the interview period. The steering committee members also recently discussed the possibility of having the extra money as an incentive package tied to performance goals.
Development Authority members at Tuesday’s meeting expressed support for contributing possibly $25,000 over a three year period but agreed that CREDC would need to officially ask the Authority before they could vote on it.
Mayor Mills said in an email that the CREDC board would be called for a meeting as soon as possible, that the entire board would serve as the selection committee, and that they hoped to have the new package advertised and the processes concluded within 30 days.
“Hopefully we'll get the five that we got shortlisted and hopefully we'll be able to add to the five that we have,” said Mills in a phone interview.
Development Authority members pointed out that the CREDC board would need to be more actively involved in a supervisory role if it was to have a full-time executive director for that amount of salary.
“If you’re going to give that type of money, it’s fair to say here are some things we’d like to see,” said Authority board member Rick Simons.
Currently, the bylaws only require one annual meeting of the CREDC board, although recent practice has been to meet about once a quarter. CREDC was formed in 2004 as a common economic development body for both the city and the county and receives about $60,000 from the city and $125,000 from the county.
The Development Authority receives fees from the bonds and financial instruments in facilitates and is part of the Joint Development Authority of Metro Atlanta.
Mills said CREDC would look at forming a governance committee that would revisit the bylaws and set up a structure for managing a full time executive director.