Commission interviews county manager candidate

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

COLUMBIANA – A candidate to replace outgoing Shelby County Manager Alex Dudchock said he would like to continue the progress the county has made over the last few decades, and would focus on continuing to run the county like a business during an interview with county leaders on the morning of June 10.

Following their regular meeting, Shelby County commissioners interviewed current Shelby County Development Services Manager Chad Scroggins, who has been with the county for the past 16 years, for the county manager position, which will be vacant after Dudchock retires in March 2020.

Scroggins is the first applicant the commission has interviewed to replace Dudchock, and as of June 10, commissioners had not scheduled any other interviews or announced when they would appoint a position to serve as Dudchock’s successor.

In the week leading up to the interview, county commissioners compiled a list of questions to present to Scroggins, dealing with everything from why he is interested in the position to how he would work to promote continued economic development in the county.

“Being here for the past 16 years, I’ve seen a lot of our management from the inside, which is a unique perspective maybe from other candidates for this job. I know kind of where our strengths and weaknesses are, and I have the unique ability to kind of identify those areas where we can improve and capitalize on the strengths we already have,” Scroggins said. “Shelby County has experienced a lot of growth over the last several years, and we’ve experienced that growth because of our quality of life. I think there are some areas where we can continue to enhance some of those attributes of our county. I like the structure we have, I like to see us operate our county government kind of like a private business. I kind of have a philosophy on that, that you do run it like a private business, that you do look at return on investment and the way the budgets are managed, but also that you provide service as a ministry.”

Commissioners asked Scroggins for his thoughts on attracting a major new employer to Shelby County over the next three years, and Scroggins said he would prefer to focus on recruiting more mid-level companies employing between 30-300 people in an effort to diversify the county’s economy and help protect it from economic downturns.

“You can attract those employers with less investment from the county’s perspective, and that will allow us to have more diversification in our economy,” he said, noting having a few major employers rather than a multitude of mid-level employers across numerous industries opens the county up to an economic downturn if one of those large employers closes. “I’m not sure attracting one (major employer) of that size within the next three years is what we need to be going after.”

Scroggins said he’d like to continue to update the county’s comprehensive plan, work with adjacent counties to create more workforce development initiatives and improving customer service throughout the county’s government, such as strengthening online access to county services.

He said he would like to foster development within the county’s managers and department heads to ensure personnel members are matched up with their greatest attributes.

“I think an advantage of being in our own system for so long is being able to see folks’ strengths and weaknesses,” he said. “We’ve got a nice thing going, and I don’t want to see it implode or mess up. When I start something, I want to finish it, and I see this as my next opportunity to finish it.”