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Horry County sticks with Weaver

John Weaver accepted a contract offer Friday from the Horry County Council for the full-time county administrator job he's done for the past 11 months as an interim administrator.

An ad-hoc committee of the Horry County Council met in a closed session to hammer out the details of the contract then brought the agreement to the full council in another closed session to discuss any changes. The ad-hoc committee met a second time in a closed session then brought the contract to the full council for a public vote. Weaver, who will receive a one-year contract and about $167,600 in annual salary, accepted the deal pending the signing of a contract.

"We are offering a one-year contract. There will be an annual job performance review by this council probably next April before the renewal of the contract for another year," said Council Chairwoman Liz Gilland, who was on the ad-hoc negotiations committee.

The agreement differs from Weaver's original request for a three-year contract. Further details of the agreement, including severance pay or other optional terms were not disclosed on Friday. The salary is about $20,000 more than former administrator Danny Knight was making when he left the position and an increase of about $40,000 from Weaver's salary as County Attorney.

Friday's vote brings an almost yearlong process to find a new administrator to a close. Former administrator Danny Knight announced his resignation in April 2009, and Weaver took over as interim administrator on May 15. The council hired the Mercer Group LLC, an executive search firm, to expand the search outside of the county. Weaver was one of three finalists for the position in the first round of the search in November. One of the other finalists dropped out and the council deadlocked on a vote between Weaver and the remaining finalist, Duncan Ballantyne, a former county administrator from Florida.

The county paid about $22,000 in fees and expenses to the search firm, plus up to $500 in travel reimbursement for out-of-town candidates.

In December, the council deadlocked on a vote to pay an additional fee to the Mercer Group to continue the search. The council instead re-examined the first group of resumes and agreed to bring in another group of three finalists: Weaver, former York County administrator Al Greene and former Oconee County administrator Dale Surrett. Greene dropped out of the running three days after the finalists were named and the council feared a similar situation would occur with another deadlock vote between the remaining two.

On Tuesday, the council deadlocked in a six to six vote, but a second vote to negotiate a contract before offering Weaver the position passed unanimously. The clock was ticking for the council to hire a permanent administrator because Weaver's interim contract would have ended on May 31, the day before the second reading and public hearing for next year's budget.

The county will next advertise to fill Weaver's previous position as county attorney.

Weaver said this week that he is looking forward to continuing the responsibilities of the administrator position.

"The strengthening of our economy is directly related to a strong economic development effort. We must have a concerted effort by Horry County, the Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corp. and the North Eastern Strategic Alliance, but not forgetting to include the many assets of Coastal Carolina University and Horry-Georgetown Technical College," Weaver said. "We cannot wait for or expect the completion of I-73 to be a cure-all. I will be making recommendations to council and seeking their guidance on how to proceed in the coming weeks and months."

Weaver said he would be giving his immediate attention to the expansion at Myrtle Beach International Airport, hiring an airports director and working on any budget concerns from the council. The council announced the decision at the close of its spring budget retreat.

Weaver said he also hopes to work as a facilitator in building better cooperation between municipalities and the county's state delegation.

"We all serve the same people and, even though our responsibilities differ, our goals are the same," he said.

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