PLEASE hire a CAO

And we have an individual in mind

It’s that time of the year when our Plumas County supervisors begin work on the next fiscal year’s budget and their top priority should be a CAO — County Administrative Officer. Yes, we may sound like a broken record because we have advocated for the resurrection of this position before, but it’s long overdue.

The CAO position was cut five years ago as a money saver, and while that may have seemed prudent at the time, no one can cling to that belief any longer. Our supervisors try their best, but they desperately need someone to take care of the day-to-day operations of this county. Running this county is similar to managing a multi-million dollar company. There has to be a point person. Every successful corporation has a strong CEO who reports to a board of directors. The board sets the goals; the CEO, or, in this case, the CAO brings them to fruition.

This doesn’t mean the supervisors relinquish control or oversight, it simply means that they have an individual who can assist them to make this county run as efficiently and effectively as possible.

Someone who can give them the background information necessary to make informed votes as they work their way through packed agendas.

Someone who can deal with personnel matters and mediate disputes between department heads — elected and appointed.

Someone who can help them not only develop a balanced budget, but maximize all funding opportunities.

This list could go on and on …

To their credit, the supervisors have acknowledged the need for a CAO, but in addition to being concerned about the cost, they have clung to the notion that “having a bad CAO” would be worse than not having one at all. Hiring is always a risk, especially if the board turns to the outside and hires an unknown quantity. But they don’t need to do that. There is someone within the county’s own ranks who would be eminently qualified to step into the job — Public Health Director Mimi Hall. We hope that she doesn’t mind us nominating her for a job without asking her first.

The reasons we think Hall would be a great choice for CAO are numerous, but here are just a few:

She has demonstrated the ability to manage complex budgets — hers at public health and others within health and human services. When she took over as public health director, the agency faced a deficit that she turned into a surplus, all while expanding the services of her department. We have no doubt that she would do the same for the county as a whole.

She has shown an ability to coordinate with other departments and public entities. Just look at the success of the award-winning 20,000 Lives program, which has become a model for the state. That program involves governmental agencies and the private sector.

She has represented this county at the state level, and is well regarded in Sacramento as well as with her colleagues throughout the state. It’s not a secret that other counties routinely try to recruit her.

She has risen through the ranks of the Plumas County family and knows the history, the system and the people.

She has raised her family here and has deep roots in the community. The county has hired leaders, whose spouses or families never move here, and they simply don’t have the same investment in this county’s future.

It’s time to hire a CAO and there is an ideal candidate already here. Hopefully it’s not too late.