County makes it legal by ratifying Tobar’s 15% raise

Grady County commissioners publicly acknowledge that they violated Georgia law when they approved a $10,475 raise for County Administrator Carlos Tobar last July, but on Tuesday night commissioners made it official.
The board voted unanimously to ratify the action taken in a closed session on July 15, 2014. The board also voted to ratify paying Tobar $4,000 for moving assistance, which was in his original contract agreement.
The county paid the moving assistance even though Tobar failed to establish a residence here within six months of his employment start date of June 3, 2013. In fact, Tobar did not purchase a home and establish residency here until  September 2014, 15 months after his employment start date.
Former Grady County Commission Chairman T.D. David said Tuesday night that he took “full responsibility” for the board’s action not being voted on in a public meeting.
According to David, Tobar’s residence in Jeff Davis County was an older house that required extensive renovations in order to be placed on the market for sale.
David also pointed out that the most recent salary survey data of county’s similar to size of Grady County was published in 2012 and that the median county administrator pay then was $92,688, which the commissioner said is still higher than Tobar’s salary of $80,000 in 2015.
“It was my personal oversight and my mistake. I accept full responsibility for the error and I apologize to the good people of Grady County for it,” Commissioner David said.
Based on the board’s action Tuesday night, Tobar is not eligible for another raise until 2016.
All of the board members at the time the raise was granted said they approved of the payraise with the exception of former Commissioner Billy Poitevint. The former District 2 commissioner said he was opposed to the raise. His replacement, Commissioner Ray Prince joined his fellow commissioners Tuesday night in ratifying the administrator’s pay hike.
The Cairo Messenger first reported on the board’s secret action in its Jan. 7 edition after weeks of questioning county officials about the pay raise and when it was approved by the county commission.
Georgia law permits governing bodies to meet behind closed doors to discuss the compensation of public officers and employees, but the law clearly states that a vote on any matter shall be taken in public and minutes of the meeting made available. It also is legal under state law for the board to give consensus on a compensation matter in order to negotiate with an employee, but once the negotiations are complete the governing body must vote on the agreement in public.
Tobar began receiving the higher paycheck effective in the first pay period of August 2014.
Commissioner David had previously contended the board voted in an open meeting to approve the pay hike, but no minutes of such a public meeting could be produced.
Tobar’s 15 percent raise came just one month after the only performance evaluation the county commission has done of Tobar and the results of that evaluation averaged between fair and good.
Tobar received low marks for communication with department heads, having good relationships with the office staff, and seeking advice from others before making decisions on matters upon which he is unfamiliar.
The board rated the administrator as “good” in managing his time and giving board requests the utmost attention.
Tobar came to Grady County from Jeff Davis County where he was voted out as the county administrator there after only 89 days on the job.
Prior to taking the Jeff Davis job, he worked a year or less as the director of mass transit for the Jacksonville, Fla., Transportation Authority in 2009 until 2010 and before that he worked for a year or less as the chief operating officer for the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority from 2008 until 2009.
From 2005 until 2008, Tobar was the transit system manager for the city of Elk Grove, Calif.
According to his resume, he earned a bachelor of arts in economics from the University of California, Davis, and a master’s of public administration from the University of West Florida.

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