Jeff Chapman’s salary as Glynn County manager would be $225,000 a year, about $44,000 more than his predecessor was paid and more than double his salary as county tax commissioner, according to the terms of his proposed county contract.
Chapman, who was suddenly named the sole finalist for the job last week, also would be provided 1,280 hours — the equivalent of 160 days — per year in personal leave, and a $750 monthly car allowance, according to the agreement drafted by Chapman’s personal attorney, Ken Jarrard.
By a 4-3 vote, the commissioners selected Chapman again last week even though he did not meet the qualifications the county had set when it advertised the job. The commissioners ignored the recommendations of a search firm that recommended two experienced female candidates.
Alan Ours, the former county manager, was paid $181,700 per year, had a $500 car allowance and 160 hours of personal leave. Chapman’s contract would grant leave of 160 days out of 261 business days each year, not counting paid holidays.
The contract and related communications were obtained by The Current under the Georgia Open Records Act. The county commission cannot vote on hiring Chapman until its Sept. 2 meeting.
When he was first considered for the position in July, Chapman didn’t apply for the job until he was approached by county commissioners to accept the position. They recruited the longtime local politician and former legislator even though he didn’t hold a college degree or have any experience as a county or city administrator. The commissioners later said they were not bound by the qualifications they had set for the job.
His name resurfaced at the end of a commission meeting on Aug. 19 as the commissioners emerged from a closed-door executive session.
Three days later, Chapman emailed the contract to county commissioners.
In his Aug. 21 letter to Aaron Mumford, county attorney and acting county manager, Chapman described the contract as representing what the commissioners had agreed to earlier. “All of the benefits and compensation amounts have been agreed to as well as the substantive terms of the agreement,” Chapman wrote. “As per the (BOC) motion, I am providing this agreement to you for your review as county attorney.”
It is unclear what, if any, negotiations have been conducted between commissioners and Chapman.
Commissioner Allen Booker, who has opposed Chapman’s appointment, said that he doesn’t consider the contract final. “We still need to negotiate this,” Booker told The Current. “If somebody has been negotiating on this, they’ve been doing it in illegal meetings.”
Booker said he believes the compensation package is excessive. “We didn’t pay the former manager $225,000 a year and, he had a lot more experience than Jeff Chapman.”
Commissioner David O’Quinn, who also opposed Chapman’s selection, said the contract was problematic. “I believe the package is excessive in many ways including the amount of personal leave,” O’Quinn said in an email to The Current. “If I understand it correctly, he can convert the unused personal leave to cash as part of his severance package. I believe that equates to approximately $160,000 in addition to the $225,000 and the $45,000 retirement contribution that the contract demands as part of his severance package.
“The whole contract is not appropriate,” O’Quinn said. “He does not have any experience in county management, nor has he had any training. This contract would be one of the richest in the state of Georgia for county managers.”
Voting for Chapman were Cap Fendig, Chairman Wayne Neal, Sammy Tostensen, and Walter Rafolski. Former Chairman Bill Brunson joined Booker and O’Quinn in opposition. The vote mirrored the commission’s vote in July, when he was first named the sole candidate. Fendig said he wouldn’t comment while the contract was still being negotiated.
None of the other commissioners responded to request for comment including a question seeking clarity about why commissioners believed Chapman merited such a compensation package.
In mid-July, the commission was on the verge of hiring Chapman, who withdrew suddenly, saying he had concerns about taking a job that offered only a one-year employment contract. His nomination also had come under fire from opponents who described it as “cronyism.”
Since then, the county has hired another consultant to find a county manager or at least an interim county manager, who could at least keep the county government functioning, Booker said.
As he moved to make Chapman the sole candidate at the July 19 meeting, Fendig said the county was stressed without a manager. “Our county has been drifting along without a manager, that has brought forth an incredible burden on our staff and our community,” he said. “We’ve been leaderless.
“This commission has diligently reached out through processes, through personal conversations to try to find the manager we can bring in,” Fendig said. “We’ve interviewed a lot of people. We’ve made offers to a lot of people who decided not to take the offer for various reasons. We’re still without a manager and we’re facing some of the most critical days ahead of us.”
The county could not provide any records to support the assertion that the county has considered other candidates or made any officers.
Fendig said that Chapman came back into the picture. “We’ve had some conversations with a former applicant, Jeff Chapman, who has reached back out to the commissioners and had some discussions and would like to renegotiate the opportunity to become the manager of Glynn County,” Fendig said.
“Sadly, this is a split vote and I’m the swing vote in this, but I feel like as a commissioner we need to have a leader on board, someone who knows to pick up the phone and call people. Bringing in another manager would take a lot of time for that person to get familiar with who’s who in the community and what’s going on in the community. We haven’t found one to date.”
Before the vote took place, O’Quinn noted that no one had approached him reconsidering Chapman.
“You said reached out to commissioners, I wasn’t reached out to, and I think some of the others haven’t been reached out to, but apparently four of you have been reached out to,” O’Quinn said.