Finalist chosen for Augusta recreation director

Russell plans to recommend his choice to commission for vote
Levine

The director of New Haven (Conn.) Parks, Recreation and Trees for the past 14 years is in line to become director of the Augusta Recreation, Parks and Facilities if the Augusta Commission approves.

City Administrator Fred Russell said he completed salary negotiations Wednesday with his choice to lead the department and is prepared to recommend that the commission hire Robert Levine at a salary of $110,000.

Russell said Levine would earn about $10,000 more than the former recreation director, Tom Beck. Levine was one of four finalists who interviewed with city officials last month.

Other finalists were interim recreation Director Ron Houck; Durham, N.C., Assistant Parks and Recreation Director Parvin Neloms; and Columbia, Tenn., Parks and Recreation Director Brian Borden.

The city has been without a recreation director since April, when the commission voted 9-1 to fire Beck on allegations of time card fraud. Beck, a 35-year veteran of the department, has a pending federal lawsuit against Russell and the city, alleging he was protecting an employee’s right to compensation when he marked her compensatory time as time worked.

Russell raised Beck’s salary by $15,000 in 2011 when the city’s facilities maintenance department was merged with recreation. The department oversees about 63 parks and facilities and has a staff of about 168.

The commission will likely vote on Levine in two weeks. Russell said he hoped to have a director in place by April.

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