Richland County Council has hired Leonardo Brown as the new county administrator.
The county announced the hiring in a Friday afternoon release. Brown was one of four finalists the county initially pegged for the job.
Brown currently is the county administrator in Smith County, Texas, which has a population of about 227,000 and is located in northeast Texas. He has been with that county for eight years, and previously served as its human resources director. Smith County has an annual budget of about $250 million. Prior to his service with Smith County, Brown was an area rental car manager with Enterprise.
He is slated to start working for Richland County on July 15. Free Times has sent a request to Richland County as to what Brown's annual salary will be.
“Mr. Brown’s background well exemplified the skills and qualities County Council was looking for to lead this organization,” Council Chairman Paul Livingston said, in a release.
Other finalists Brown beat out for the job included Connecticut Department of Social Services Commissioner Roderick Bremby; York County Manager William Shanahan; and Lake County, Illinois Assistant Administrator Dakisha Wesley. County officials say 48 people applied for the job.
Richland County has been without a regular administrator for more than a year, following a disastrous ending with former administrator Gerald Seals, who had been with Richland since 2016. In April 2018, Council voted — twice — to fire Seals, with some Council members accusing the administrator of, among other things, sleeping on the job. Seals subsequently threatened to sue the county.
In May 2018, County Council approved a settlement with Seals: He got nearly $1 million, and agreed not to bring a suit against the county.
The county then hired Edward Gomeau as an interim administrator, and, though he only worked with in Richland for less than a year, he navigated the county through several difficult issues. He help convince Council to begin reimbursing the county’s transportation fund for millions of dollars in penny tax expenditures that were unallowable per the S.C. Department of Revenue and state Supreme Court, and he urged Council to approve a robust audit of the oft-controversial penny program, which they did. It was also at Gomeau’s urging that Council rekindled the previously maligned Richland Renaissance county improvement plan, albeit in a slimmed down form.