published Friday, June 14th, 2013

Jackson County administrator fired for 'gross neglect'

Jackson County, Ala.'s county administrator was fired Monday by a unanimous vote by the County Commission.

"'Gross neglect' was the primary cause," commission Chairman Matthew Hodges said Thursday.

"I haven't gone into the details. We did have several budget issues going on, and we're going to have to address and fix those," Hodges said.

Administrator Sandra Erickson said Thursday that she's done nothing wrong and plans to appeal her firing to the county's personnel board.

The board will review the appeal and make a recommendation to the County Commission on how to proceed.

If the commission upholds the firing, Erickson said, she'll probably take the case to court.

The former administrator said she wasn't given a cause for her termination.

In response to Hodges' contention the primary reason was "gross neglect," Erickson said, "I'm definitely innocent of that."

Erickson called the situation "very unfortunate."

"I've done my job according to the law, according to my job description and to the best of my ability," she said. Erickson's current three-year contract runs until July 7, 2015.

Hodges said Thursday that he was unaware Erickson planned to appeal her termination.

Until a replacement is found, Hodges said, office staff temporarily will take over Erickson's duties.

"For the time being, we're handling everything," he said. "We're able to conduct business as we need to."

The county's books are under review as the search begins for a new administrator.

"Our auditors are in right now, but we've been able to provide all the information," he said of efforts to clear up accounts.

Hodges said a review of county books so far has shown a $1.2 million deficit in the general fund and, more recently, another $1.2 million deficit against expected revenue in the public works budget.

Filling the vacant post and sorting out the financial problems "is going to be a long, difficult process," he said.

Contact staff writer Ben Benton at bbenton@times freepress.com or 423-757-6569. Subscribe on Facebook at facebook.com/ben.benton1 and follow on twitter.com/BenBenton on Twitter.

about Ben Benton...

Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...

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