RICHLAND COUNTY, SC — Some members of Richland County Council want to give Tony McDonald the administrator’s job for keeps.
While the 11-member council is playing it close to the vest, there are indications members may forget about conducting a search for a replacement and simply offer McDonald a contract, possibly as soon as Tuesday night.
“If Tony McDonald was willing to serve, I would be the first one to raise my hand,” Councilman Damon Jeter said.
McDonald served as second-in-command to the previous administrator, Milton Pope, who retired from his $157,500-a-year post June 30.
Since taking over as interim administrator, McDonald, 52, was busy in voter-education efforts for the transportation sales tax, meeting with civic groups and neighborhood associations across the county.
He also has moved to expand curbside recycling and, just this week, pleased many on the council by announcing a pilot project to stop charging citizens for parking at the county administration building.
The county administrator is in charge of day-to-day operations of the county’s $139-million operating budget, supervising nearly 2,000 employees.
Both Democrats and Republicans on the council made no secret of admiring McDonald’s skills.
Councilwoman Val Hutchinson said he has earned the trust and respect of colleagues in local government.
“He is an incredibly decent human being and his only agenda is to make peoples’ lives better in Richland County,” Hutchinson said by email. “His fairness has helped unite a fractured council, and has created a better working environment at 2020 Hampton Street,” the administration building.
The council has made no moves to fill the county’s top job beyond establishing a search committee, which has not met. The council set aside $75,000 in this year’s budget to conduct a search.
“We are working toward hiring an administrator. That’s about all I can say,” Councilman Greg Pearce, a member of the search committee, said Friday.
McDonald, meanwhile, has not said whether he’s interested in keeping the job.
As assistant administrator, a job he’s held since 1999, McDonald supervised finance, human resources, procurement, solid waste and emergency services.
He has worked for Richland County for 27 years, starting as a research analyst.
Reach Hinshaw at (803) 771-8641.