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Halasz resigns, ending six-year tenure as Halifax County administrator

South Boston News
Halasz / June 28, 2018
Ending a six-year, sometimes stormy tenure, Halifax County administrator Jim Halasz tendered his resignation Monday night following an hour-long closed session by his bosses on the Halifax County Board of Supervisors.

Halasz’s departure, which takes effect July 31, comes after the county administrator became the focus of closed-door discussions by the Halifax County Board of Supervisors on two separate occasions this month prior to Monday night’s meeting in Halifax.

After huddling in private and then coming back out for open regular session, county supervisors accepted Halasz’s resignation on an 8-0 vote.

Board Chairman Dennis Witt, in brief remarks, praised Halasz’s performance as administrator, thanking him for his service to Halifax County and wished him well. No other board members commented on his resignation.

Halasz responded by saying that he had enjoyed his time working with members of the Board of Supervisors and others in the county.

Halasz will be paid four months’ severance — less than stipulated in his employment contract, which allowed for six months’ severance pay — and he will keep his health benefits during the same period.

Halasz was hired at a salary of $140,000 and last year he was granted a 5.3 percent raise when supervisors renewed his contract.

Halasz’s time in Halifax County as chief administrator of county government has been marked by ups and downs.

He led the negotiations with members of the judiciary on improvements to the dilapidated Halifax County Courthouse, producing an agreement that called for spending some $16 million to restore the historic, Dabney Cosby-designed building.

But Halasz also incurred the ire of Town of Halifax officials, local preservationists, taxpayers and others who faulted him for shunning citizen input as the county hammered out an agreement with judges on the courthouse’s future.

Halasz also was at the center of a bitter, prolonged impasse between supervisors in 2015, which lasted until the 4-4 board split was broken with the election of new members in the hotly contested fall general election.

For months, the Board of Supervisors was unable to elect a chairman or vice chairman, and a four-member bloc called for Halasz’s ouster, blaming him for operating in secret and retaliating against employees who questioned his decisions.

Of Halasz’s critics on the board during that time, only two — William Bryant Claiborne and Hubert Pannell — remain as county supervisors.

Halasz was hired as county administrator on June 25, 2012, six years ago to the day of his resignation announcement. A Michigan native, he came to Halifax County after serving more than 12 years in Staunton as assistant and deputy city manager. He has more than two decades experience in public administration.

Among his recent accomplishments in Halifax is the formation of a private-public partnership to bring wireless broadband internet to the countryside, and the development of regulations to govern the spread of solar energy generation facilities in Halifax.

Supervisors consider temporary replacement

Halifax County Supervisors will hold a special called meeting Monday to consider the appointment of an interim county administrator in the wake of Jim Halasz’s resignation on Monday.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Dennis Witt said Tuesday that he expects a “smooth transition with the incoming interim administrator,” hoping to have a temporary employee to work with Halasz before the outgoing county administrator leaves July 31.

The special called meeting of supervisors will take place Monday, at 11:30 a.m. in the second floor meeting room of the Mary Bethune Complex.

If deemed necessary, a closed session will be authorized to discuss specific personnel matters including duties and salaries of specific county employees.

Supervisors have another major staff vacancy to fill aside from hiring a new county administrator. The board is looking to find a successor to Chad Loftis, the county’s former emergency services coordinator who resigned in April. No reason was given for Loftis’ departure.

A longtime member of the county administration office, Debbie Forlines, has told the press that she will be retiring soon, with Sept. 30 set as her last day at the county office.

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