Franklin County commissioners unanimously decided Wednesday to promote a public works design engineer to the job of public works director.
Matt Mahoney will take over the position left vacant when commissioners fired former public works Director Tim Fife.
County commissioners fired Fife in March, claiming he did not do enough to prevent the alleged embezzlement of about $2.8 million by Dennis Huston, the county's former public works accounting manager.
Commissioner Rick Miller said Wednesday he had hoped to get someone from outside the department to fill the position. But he said he is confident Mahoney can change the culture of the department.
Commissioner Bob Koch said Mahoney came out on top of other candidates for the job considering his qualifications and experience with the county. He will be able to step right in without any learning curve, Koch said.
Commission Chairman Brad Peck said although he thinks Mahoney can do it, it will be harder for him to have objectivity and separate the department from past practices than it would have for someone from outside.
But Peck said, "I have absolute confidence in his character, his commitment, his conviction about doing things the right way."
Mahoney will be paid $79,606 a year. That's a $3,446 raise from his current annual salary, according to county documents.
Fife also was the county engineer, but commissioners decided to split the job and make the director a stronger administrative position.
Commissioners hired Matthew S. Rasmussen, a civil engineer with Kennewick's Meier Architecture Engineering, to be the county's assistant public works director and county engineer last month at a $69,000-a-year salary.
Guy Walters, the current assistant director, plans to retire but has been serving as interim director while the county was assessing candidates for the job.
-- Kristi Pihl: 582-1512; email@example.com