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Palmer opts to stay in FC

After a mere couple of days of deliberation, Franklin County Engineer David Palmer decided to turn down an offer from Lawrence County and remain in Franklin.

His decision came after the Franklin County Commission voted to offer him a hefty pay raise in October.

At last Tuesday’s county commission meeting, commissioners discussed Palmer’s contract and whether they could afford to keep him, given the roughly 26 percent increase offered by nearby Lawrence County to serve as their county engineer, or whether they could afford to lose him, given the skills and expertise, to say nothing of the ATRIP funds, that Palmer has brought to the county.

Palmer said, as a close personal and professional friend with Lawrence County engineer Ben Duncan, he was contacted by Duncan when the latter decided to make a move into the private sector, to see if he would be interested in applying for the county job. With the county being adjacent to Franklin, Palmer decided to explore the opportunity.

He was offered the job, but his decision hung, in part, on action by the Franklin County Commission.

Commissioners Rayburn Massey, David Hester and Chris Wallace voted in favor of the increase for Palmer, citing his value to the county in terms of his knowledge and skill in multiple facets of heading the highway department. Commissioner Jason Miller voted against the increase, saying that while he sees Palmer as an asset, he couldn’t see justifying that kind of payment, particularly while telling constituents in his district that the county has a tight budget.

The 3-1 vote resulted in a salary increase for Palmer at the beginning of FY2018 (October 2017) to $163,200; at the beginning of FY2019 (October 2018) to $166,464; and FY2020 (October 2019) to $169,793, through December 2020, representing a four-year contract beginning January 2017. The last three years will put Palmer’s salary in line with the offer from Lawrence County.

“Not very many county engineers get to the chance to start and finish their careers in the same county,” Palmer said. “I feel that God has given me the opportunity to do just that here in Franklin County. That is important to me, and I am so thankful for the opportunity.”

Palmer said while he is grateful to Lawrence County “for offering me such a great opportunity to come and continue my career in their county,” he is also “forever grateful to Franklin County for giving me and my family the opportunity to stay here and continue working for this community.”
“It was very difficult and stressful not knowing for sure what to do,” he said. “We prayed so hard for guidance.” Palmer thanked his wife and family for their support. “My wife and I have poured our hearts and souls into this community for the past 26 years, and we are thankful to have the opportunity to continue to do so,” he said. “I don’t know what the future holds, but I do believe in the divine providence of God and that his will is always done. I’m at peace with that and ready to move forward.”