MONTICELLO — As Piatt County continues to struggle finding applicants for its vacant Emergency Management Agency director position, it has hired a new interim director.
Monticello Police Chief John Carter will take on interim duties, replacing Piatt County Sheriff David Hunt, who resigned as interim last week.
Hunt declined to comment on the reason for his resignation, which presumedly came sometime between a county board EMA committee meeting April 27 and a second one on April 30, when Carter was hired.
The sheriff — who is retiring in that capacity as well in July — has served as interim EMA director since December. At that time he was filling in for Mike Holmes, who was on sick leave and dismissed in January.
In February, Holmes filed a federal lawsuit against the county, claiming violations of the Family Medical Leave Act when his position was reduced from full to part time at the beginning of the new fiscal year in December. He was on FMLA at the time the budget was approved.
Holmes has since amended the complaint, claiming also that $292,000 in state grants received between 2007 to 2018 for EMA purposes were not allocated to that department.
Although he did not elaborate on his resignation, Hunt said after the April 30 committee meeting that the lawsuit against the county was not the reason for him stepping down.
Hunt has worked to get certifications complete for the county EMA department, some of which are due May 15. EMA member Shannon Carroll said only “very small tweaks” remain for them to be approved by state officials.
“So, thank you, Sheriff,” Carroll said at the April 30 committee meeting.
County Board and EMA Committee Chairman Ray Spencer also thanked Hunt for his help in getting the county close on EMA certifications.
“A lot of credit for Sheriff Hunt for getting us up to the goal line,” Spencer said.
Carter will be paid the same as Hunt had been getting as interim: about $1,300 monthly.
“Anything I can do to help our community, I’ll be willing to do,” Carter said.
He has some background, working with city officials in Monticello on emergency plans. Carter also has a background in fire and ambulance work, in addition to police.
Third round of ads
The county is in the midst of a third round of advertising for the EMA director post, which is advertised as “half time” after being full time last fiscal year. Holmes was paid $37,740, but the county budgeted only $16,000 for 2020-21. The position had been part time in the past.
Hunt told the committee on April 27 he feels the work justifies more than a half-time employee.
“I said before, this is a full-time position. It’s kind of like police work — you’re preparing for the worst. There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes paperwork that has to be done. There are trainings that the IMEA requires,” Hunt said.
“If you’re part time, how do you do the work here at the office and meetings and Zoom calls? Then when something goes down — a disaster of some sort — does that person only work half-time?”
Two people who initially applied for EMA director position eventually withdrew. A third who surfaced in a second round of advertising liked the idea of half-time, but Spencer said the applicant felt it would take full-time hours for at least the first four to six months.
The position is being advertised for a third time. A job description is posted on the county website, piattcounty.gov.