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Rogers is Rehired

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After an animated discussion, members of the Hernando County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) voted to renew the contract of current County Administrator Jeff Rogers.

Rogers joined the Hernando County Government in September 2017 as Deputy County Administrator. He assumed the post of Acting County Administrator in January 2019 after the BOCC voted to terminate then County Administrator Len Sossamon over budget problems connected to his administration.

Rogers became the Hernando County Administrator in May 2019 at a starting salary of roughly $168,000. His current salary, including the 3 percent raises negotiated into his initial contract, is $195,020.

When negotiations began, Rogers requested that his salary be established from a contract value range that included $260,000. After some number crunching based on prevailing salaries for comparable positions in Citrus, Sumter and Clay counties, the BOCC proposed an annual salary of $249,185 for a period of two years, increasing at the rate of other Hernando County employees beginning on Oct. 1, 2026 and extending to May 28, 2029, effective immediately.

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Before the vote, Commissioner Brian Hawkins said the contract negotiations were important and that the BOCC’s proposed salary was not unreasonable.

“I do this in the private sector all the time; it’s part of the gig if you’re a Corporate Executive Officer (CEO),” Hawkins said. “I think the country administrator has done a good job – the people that he’s hired and retained, as well as the culture that’s come from the county, deserve all high marks – just in my short time on the board has been phenomenal in helping me come across. If this was the private sector, it would be three times this amount.”

Throughout the discussion Commissioner Steve Champion vowed not to vote for the contract proposal. “The Governor of Florida makes $134,000 – the Governor,” Champion said. “We’re gonna be the laughing stock – I’m telling you right now, the public will not want this. They are going to be very upset – we have a community that’s struggling to even find a place to live, we have homeless getting out of control and we’re asking for 1-cent to pay for roads and law enforcement, etc. and we’re going to give our administrator an over 30 percent increase when the employees are getting 3 percent (cost of living) and people are struggling to buy groceries? I just can’t fathom this.”

He also said that Rogers was simply implementing policies established by the BOCC. “Jeff (Rogers) has done a great job carrying out our policies but all those things are the result of our leadership, too, because if we said no, he wouldn’t have done any of them.”

Commissioner John Allocco argued that replacing Rogers could be more costly than the BOCC- proposed salary would be. “ I see the salaries around us – we have one small municipality in our county, that means the rest of the county is served by county government. It is so different than (in) other counties,” Allocco said. “The other concern is do we want to replace our administrator and get into a situation where we are looking to replace and the market is dictating a very different salary that we were expecting.”

“I don’t want you to look elsewhere,” he said to Rogers, “but that’s always a risk.”

Champion shot back, “That’s why you have a deputy administrator, and I don’t want to be threatened— if he wants to go, he can go.”

Finally, Hawkins made the motion to offer Rogers a contract with an annual salary of $249,185 for a period of two years, increasing at the rate of other Hernando County employees beginning on Oct. 1, 2026, and extending to May 28, 2029, effective immediately.

Jerry Campbell seconded the motion. “We’ve all said it. These numbers are (high) but we have to make tough decisions,” Campbell told the group. “And we have to do what’s best for Hernando County and what’s best for Hernando County, in my opinion right now, is to retain our current county administrator.”

Ultimately, the motion passed by a 4 -1 margin, with Champion weighing in as the sole dissenter.

Rogers then accepted the contract.

After the meeting, Allocco said that the BOCC’s decision to retain Rogers was a good financial one. “By state law, if Rogers was to leave, we would have to pay four months severance and he would be required to cash in all his paid time off,” he said. “Those things are close to $100,000 – the numbers are high but we want somebody to be part of the community, and we have to look at what the talent costs.”

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