John Page resigned from his position Jan. 30.

The head of Camden County Emergency Management Agency has called it quits, citing a disagreement over the 2015 budget.

The head of Camden County Emergency Management Agency has called it quits, citing a disagreement over the 2015 budget.

Emergency Management Director John Page resigned from the position he has held since August 2013 after learning the budget request for the emergency management department had been cut by approximately $14,000 by the commission.

Page said he does not believe emergency management is a priority with the commission.

Page had requested approximately $124,000 while the final budget approved by the commission allocated $110,081 for the department. Part of the approved budget was to be used in conjunction with a grant to hire new personnel.

The department is funded by a combination of county and grant funds. In 2014, the grant money from a state emergency management fund accounted for about $44,000 of the $96,000 budget.

In 2014, the emergency management budget totaled $96,228. By just glancing at the two budgets — $96,228 for 2014 and $110,081 for 2015 — the new budget would appear to have been significantly increased.

That is not necessarily the case.

If one was to decrease the budget by the amount set aside for new personnel — approximately, $21,000, and their benefits, $13,253.50 — then one would get a total of $75,827.50 which is a decrease of $20,401 from the 2014 budget. Because of the additional funds used to hire another employee, the commission doesn't view the differences as a budget cut.

Page's resignation followed a request made on Jan. 23 to meet with the Camden County commission to explain the reasoning for the cuts that were made to his request and to reconsider their decision. The final budget was approved on Jan. 30, without a response to Page. He submitted his resignation that same day. Presiding Commissioner Greg Hasty said he did not recall seeing Page's Jan. 23 letter amid dealing with a family emergency.

Page says that he stumbled upon the budget cuts and never was given an opportunity to discuss his budget during the planning stages.

"In the earlier 2000s, the Commission met with every elected official and department head regarding their budgets. This practice was discontinued when the economy at the lake suffered a severe downturn," Associated Commissioner Bev Thomas told the Lake Sun in an email. "All funds were distributed as equitably as possible at that time but there were no extra funds to discuss. So far we are still trying to budget very conservatively due to the uncertainty of the economy still in place. However, we meet with every department head or elected official who requests a meeting regarding their budget. This year we met with several, the same as we have in previous years."

Presiding Commissioner Greg Hasty told the Lake Sun that he thought Commissioner Thomas and Associate Commissioner Cliff Luber had met with Page. Hasty had been out of the office during much of the work on the budget due to a family emergency. He told the Lake Sun the commission would never leave the department in a position in which it couldn't do its job.

He also said when Page requested items in the past not in the budget, the commission fulfilled his requests.

Page said the budget change means the department will have to delay improvements to the communications system as well as several other projects that were planned for 2015.

The Commission met during closed session on Tuesday, Feb. 3, and approved the hiring of Ron Gentry as the new Emergency Management Director.

The replacement came within days or hours of receiving Page's resignation letter.

Page says that he gave his resignation letter to Hasty in person on the afternoon of Jan. 30. The office's secretary has confirmed that Page came to the commission office on that day. Hasty, on the other hand, says he did not receive the letter until Monday, Feb. 2.

Page was notified that his resignation was accepted and that a replacement had been named on Tuesday, Feb. 3.

Hasty said Gentry's experience made him a quality candidate for the position, which was filled shortly after Page's resignation.

"Ron has been around for a while and is very qualified for the job," Hasty said.

Hasty added that the decision was made based on previous interviews. Gentry is a former chief for the Mid County Fire Protection District.

Page asked the commission to decide his last day with the county. As of Thursday, Feb. 5, they had yet to decide when that would be. Hasty could not offer a start date for Gentry either.