Board still not settled on a name for county administrator

What is in a name? Apparently a lot according to the Plumas County Board of Supervisors. The board hashed through another session concerning the county administrative officer position, and again got stuck on the concept of what the position should be called.

“Did we finally find a name?” said District 5 Supervisor Jeff Engel.

At the previous meeting, the board finalized on “county executive” as the title. However, District 3 Supervisor Sherrie Thrall said there might be a problem with that name.

“I’m thinking that maybe county manager might be a better title,” she said.

“The word executive implies authority and we are not really giving this person a lot of authority over the department heads,” said District 1 Supervisor Michael Sanchez.

“I have been against a CAO and vocal about it,” said Thrall. “I do see that we need someone here on a day-to-day basis … but calling it a county executive implies something more than what we are looking for.”

The main issue that Thrall and District 4 Supervisor Lori Simpson had with the job description was the position’s ability to evaluate department heads.

“I really like how we are doing it now,” said Thrall, referring to the current process where the whole board conducts employee evaluations during closed session.

“You always hear you need a buffer between the board and the department heads,” said Simpson. “Come on, we are in Quincy, there is 18,000 people. … We are not going to be buffered from them. I go to the grocery store and I spend three hours talking to department heads.”

County Counsel Craig Settlemire interjected during the discussion with his thoughts, which he disclaimed as “not necessarily purely legal and inter-legal advice.”

He said there are internal inconsistencies with the job description where the job description describes the position as the executive officer, but the amendments to the description take away the authority for the positon to act in that capacity.

“My concern is there could be a problem in this position being effective and successful without a certain amount of authority inferred upon them,” he said. “Executive means somebody who carries out or controls with some degree of management authority … but with the deletions of authority that you have here, you are left with someone in more of an advisory capacity then an executive capacity.”

There was discussion about possibly moving talk of the position into an ad hoc committee, but the general consensus was to keep it within the board discussions.

“I think what we have got going on right now is a really good, happy medium with the size of our county,” said District 2 Supervisor Kevin Goss. “I don’t think we need to get a CAO and the whole gambit.”

The board still needs to talk about qualifications and salary for the position. Engel advised the group to add any edits to the job description they would like to see, and they will be addressed at the next board meeting.

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