Allegations by a Fairfield County man that the hiring of the county’s new head of animal control was in violation of the county’s hiring practices has been found to be without merit.
On Aug. 28, Jimmy Ray Douglas alleged in a letter to the editor to The Herald Independent that the county’s “animal control officer was recently fired so the Fairfield County Clerk to Council Shrryl Brown’s husband could take over his job.”
At the request of The Herald Independent, Fairfield Deputy County Administrator Davis Anderson provided documents that showed David Brown’s hiring was not in violation of the county’s hiring policy.
Anderson emphasized that the county’s policy is to hire the most suitable candidate for a position.
In the case of Brown’s changing positions with animal control, Anderson provided documentation that showed Brown was moved into an interim animal control officer position Jan. 20, 2012 since he was an established lead employee at the animal control office who was next in line for the position.
Brown, who has a bachelor’s degree in biology from S.C. State, is serving in an interim position until pending litigation is settled regarding the termination of his former supervisor, Mike Hollis. Hollis was terminated in January for the way he handled a vicious dog attack case in the county where one animal severely mauled another and chewed portions of its leg off. Hollis has since filed a lawsuit against the county with regard to his termination.
According to section EP-5 of the county’s Human Resources manual “applicants will not be disqualified simply because they have a close relative already employed by the county. It is necessary that judgement be exercised by all supervisors and department heads when selecting applicants to be employed in the same department where they have a close relative.”
Husband and wife teams are not allowed to work in the same department of the county.
The policy continues stating that an employee or an elected official shall not hire, promote, select, place, raise the pay or complete a performance appraisal of any individual who is a close relative, or in any manner influence those actions.”
If an emergency situation arises and employment of close relatives is necessary for a period of no more than 30 days, that hire must be approved by the county administrator.
“Ninety-nine percent of the time we do try to hire locally first,” Anderson said, “because that way our tax dollars stay here, provided we have qualified persons in the county to fill an open position.”
Fairfield County Safety Supervisor Hyatte Kelsy works with Anderson to perform human resources duties and find qualified job applicants.
The two certify that candidates are suitable for positions and forward that to department heads for interviews and hiring, but they do not hire employees unless it is an internal promotion within the human resources department.
Instead department managers must make all hires for the county.
A step-by-step process is used to evaluate applicants. The applications are compared to a fact sheet for each position and the candidate list is narrowed to the top five candidates. The department head then prepares interview questions for each candidate.
“We look at qualifications and what skill set individuals bring with them,” Anderson said. “If they happen to be related to the someone on county council or the police chief, well it is a small county with a limited pool of applications to pull from.”
Jobs are posted online at the county website www.fairfieldsc.com and through the SC Works job service office located at1009 Kincaid Bridge Road in Winnsboro.
The SCWorks office contains staff who can assist with resume development, applying for jobs using computers and other soft skills related to obtaining employment. County jobs also are posted through the The State newspaper and The Herald Independent.
The hiring process can take between four and six weeks.
Anderson said that when the litigation with the former head of animal control is resolved that the animal control position would be filled using one of the two methods: internal promotion or by an open hiring process.
Internal promotions are for employees who are eligible for promotion based on their current employment with the county and their experience.
The open hiring process involves advertising the position per the county’s policy and is open to anyone who wants to apply.
South Carolina law prohibits a county council from running the day-to-day operations of a county. Instead, those duties – including the hiring of employees – are handled by a county administrator – Phil Hinely in the case of Fairfield County.
By law, a county council can only hire two people – the clerk of court and the county administrator.