BY KEN WALKER

POST-INTELLIGENCER

Henry County Mayor Brent Greer is officially on the clock — counting down the days until he leaves office after 22 years.

Greer has presented what he calls a transition plan to help smooth the move from his administration to whoever is elected as the next mayor on Nov. 3.

Carlton Gerrell, John Penn Ridgeway and Tim Wirgau are on the ballot as candidates for the mayoral position. Gerrell is the Republican nominee, while the other two are running as independents.

Greer spoke to the county Budget Committee Tuesday about a few things he would like to see happen during the changeover. They involve raises for a trio of employees and, in one case, a different title.

Pat Hollingsworth, county budget director; Ronald Watkins, emergency management director; and Rob Whitfield, county attorney are the workers affected by the plan.

Hollingsworth, a 20-year veteran of county government, would be promoted and receive a sizable raise under Greer’s plan.

“The job that Pat does — it’s more than just being a director of accounts and budgets now,” Greer told the committee.

He said Hollingsworth hasn’t been properly recognized — or financially rewarded — for the job she has done since 2000.

“Her duties and responsibilities exceed the duties normally required for the position she holds. Her workload has increased significantly since we entered the COVID-19 phase as well as the increased responsibilities that she will need to assume upon my retirement,” Greer said.

Hollingsworth’s current salary is $55,991. Under Greer’s plan, she would be promoted to a newly created position of director of finance/vice mayor, and her salary would be boosted to $65,000.

She would also become eligible for step raises within the county system, which she hasn’t been receiving so far because she was considered an appointed official. She would continue to receive those step raises until her salary aligned with the salary received by the county’s administrator of elections, which is currently $72,602.

Greer said Hollingsworth has been a trusted employee who he has relied upon greatly in preparing budgets for the last 20 years.

“I think Pat’s in a great position to be a teacher to whoever comes into the mayor’s position after me,” he said.

Hollingsworth recently completed requirements to become a certified county financial officer as designated by the state comptroller’s office.

Greer showed the committee salary figures for what he said were comparable positions in other counties and the City of Paris. All make between $59,000 and $95,000 for doing their jobs, which Greer said Hollingsworth is doing already.

The other two parts of the transition plan involve:

• A raise of nearly $5,000 for Watkins in his role as emergency management director.

Watkins, who also is the county’s solid waste manager, for which he is paid $37,207, serves as head of the county’s EMA (Emergency Management Agency) in what is basically a part-time job.

Greer is seeking a raise for Watkins for the EMA job from $20,865 to $25,000. His salary is partially paid now by a grant from the Tennessee Emergency Management Association (TEMA), while the increase would be covered by money from the Tennessee CARES Act, put in place during the COVID outbreak.

“Ron has assumed a substantially increased workload due to COVID-19,” Greer said. “It has required longer hours within his prior job duties and he was not receiving additional compensation for his efforts.”

• Whitfield, the county attorney, would see his annual retainer increased from $23,154 to $28,000.

Greer said the COVID outbreak has greatly increased the amount of time Whitfield has spent on the job. A state grant supporting local governments would pay for the increase this year.

Greer has often been highly complimentary of Whitfield’s work in pursuing and collecting delinquent sales tax revenues for the county.

The budget committee voted to support the transition plan, which Greer will bring to the county Personnel Policies and Procedures Committee today. That group is to meet at 4 p.m. in the conference room at the courthouse.

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