Decatur County commissioners unanimously voted to hire Alan Thomas as the new county administrator at their Tuesday night meeting.
Thomas is returning for his second stint as county administrator, having previously served in the role from 1989 to 2005. County commissioners also approved Thomas’ contract, which will pay him a $115,000 annual salary and allot him up to two weeks paid time off.
Decatur County commissioners identified Thomas as a candidate after a recent search for a county administrator among 22 applicants proved fruitless. Decatur County commissioners were not satisfied with the results of background checks into four semifinalists from outside Decatur County, and Thomas’ name came up as a potential candidate shortly thereafter, according to Commissioner Russell Smith.
For his part, Thomas–whose immediate previous job was working as a nurse at Archbold Hospital in Thomasville–was surprised when he got a call to come interview for the position, he said after Tuesday’s meeting. After talking with commissioners and thinking about the opportunity, Thomas (who lives in Bainbridge) decided he was willing to take on the responsibilities of county administrator once again.
Commissioner Smith said he was personally impressed by a graph created by the administrator search committee that plots Decatur County government’s annual bank balance, beginning in the early 2000s, when Thomas was still there, and continuing to the present.
Smith said the county’s reserve funds reached a high point shortly before Thomas resigned in 2005, only to dwindle down to very low amounts in recent years. Smith said he knew that the economic downturn beginning in 2008 was partly to blame, but also attributed the county’s past financial health to Thomas’ leadership.
According to Commissioner Pete Stephens, during Thomas’ interview with county commissioners, Smith essentially asked Thomas, “You had us in good shape before, can you get us there again?”
To which Thomas replied, “No, I cannot. But we can do it together,” according to Stephens.
Smith said several former county commissioners who worked with Thomas, including Jim Jeter, had good things to say about Thomas. Smith said county employees also seem excited for the prospect of working under Thomas’ leadership again.
In a brief statement after Tuesday’s meeting, Thomas told the media, “I appreciate the trust and confidence that commissioners have placed in me and I look forward to working with each one of them…I will work to the best that I can to move Decatur County forward, for the benefit of its citizens.”
Outgoing county administrator Perry Henry, who has been working on an interim basis since April 30, said he planned to get Thomas up to speed on the current status and operation of county government over the next few weeks.