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Hall County administrator to resign

Shuler criticized for pay, will leave job June 30

POSTED: May 19, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Hall County Administrator Jim Shuler is resigning his post effective June 30 after reaching an agreement to cut short his current one-year contract by three months, officials announced during a regular county commission meeting Thursday.

Shuler, Hall County’s top appointed official since 2000, came under fire this year for a compensation package that totaled $330,000 a year.

Shuler said in an interview during a break in the meeting that the controversy over his compensation did not play into his decision to resign.

"That was in January," he said. "There’s nothing going on with that; it’s totally my decision."

Hall County Commission Chairman Tom Oliver confirmed that Shuler called him in recent days to talk about resigning and that the agreement was reached at Shuler’s initiation.

"It’s his choice, and he’s done a good job," Oliver said.

County Commissioners Steve Gailey, Bobby Banks, Deborah Mack and Billy Powell all declined to comment on Shuler’s decision after the meeting.

Oliver said he expected a decision would be made on the appointment of an interim county administrator within the next 30 days. He expects the county to launch a nationwide search for a permanent successor to Shuler.

"We’re excited about the opportunity," Oliver said. "This county’s in kind of a transitional period and we owe it to the constituents to do a nationwide search."

Shuler said in a news release distributed prior to the meeting that he anticipated that 2008 would be his last year as a county employee for the past 10 years. He interpreted June 30 as the end date of his current contract, when other county employees become eligible for retirement, although the reappointment that commissioners voted on in January lasted through the end of the year.

"It’s time," Shuler said in an interview Thursday. "I kind of always knew that (June 30) was my date when I was going to leave, but you don’t want to do that six months ahead. There’s a time to do that when it’s appropriate.

And now’s the time that’s
appropriate."

Shuler’s total compensation package of $330,000 included a $91,000 pension he collected after retiring from his position at the end of 2006 and $22,160 annual retirement fund that taxpayers paid into after he was rehired to continue the same job in 2007.

Shuler retired and began collecting his first pension due to Hall County’s employee retirement policies, which require mandatory retirement after a certain number of years of service. Shuler, 56, has worked for Hall County since 1977. He was assistant county administrator for seven years beginning in 1993 before being appointed to the top job.

Hall County Commissioner Bobby Banks was outspoken over Shuler’s salary and benefits package and unsuccessfully tried to seek a separate vote on the administrator’s one-year reappointment when it came up for a vote along with other appointed officials in a January commission meeting. Banks voted against the consent agenda item then.

Under the terms of the employment termination agreement reached Thursday, Shuler will serve as a paid consultant to the county for 90 days after his term as county administrator ends. During his time as a consultant, he will collect a prorated amount of his base salary of $182,000 but will not receive benefits such as insurance or a car allowance.

Shuler will no longer work for Hall County by Sept. 30, under the terms of the agreement.

Shuler, a native of New Holland, said he’s enjoyed a "great career" with Hall County.

"Hall County is a great place to be," Shuler said. "I’ve done what I can do for it, and it’s time for me to go on and do some other things. I want to live my life and let the county move forward."

Shuler said he looked forward in retirement to more time for golfing and fishing and traveling with his wife, Darla, on their Harley-Davidson motorcycles.



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