Image Link 06/20/2017

How to Hire a County Manager

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In 2014, Elbert County appointed its first county manager. It was not a unanimous appointment by the three commissioners. Then Commissioner Kurt Schlegel wanted to thank then road and bridge manager Ed Ehmann for protecting Schlegel when state officials came after the county for exposing asbestos at the Elizabeth titan missile silo/trash transfer site. Schlegel, acting on his own, directed Ehmann to give the keys to the site to a contractor for the purpose of extracting scrap metal. OOPS! They blamed it all on the contractor. Following a $20,000 fine from the state and closure of the site, Ehmann was rewarded with a bump to a newly created county manager position and a $109K annual salary. The county is still paying off that fine and the site is still closed.

In a 2015 report from the National Association of Counties (NaCO), less than half (43%) of U.S. counties have a county manager. (See this report here:

In the spirit of helpfulness, a concerned citizen offers our county commissioners some easily obtained information via Google on how to find a qualified county manager:

>From the CCCMA (Colorado City and County Management Association: How to Hire a Local Government Administrator

The opening paragraphs in this document read:

"For many governing board members, hiring a local government manager may be the most important decision you will make during your tenure. Think about it: The person you choose as your next manager must be able to carry out all of the policies that you establish, in the way that you want them carried out. In addition, she or he must ensure the provision of all your government services at the level that your citizens demand and expect. Your new manager will have a major effect on your organization and community, one that will extend well beyond your term in office. That is a pretty high standard for your manager search, so it makes sense that you will want to do everything you can to get it right."

"Hiring a local government manager is not a case of finding the "winning" candidate from among the applicants - it is more a matter of finding the right match for you and the manager. Select a mismatch, and you will be doing another search before you know it. Find the right match, and you will be making an investment in the long-term success of your community. This publication is intended to help you conduct a thoughtful, thorough manager search that will provide you and your eventual selection with all the information needed to determine if you are both making the right choice."

My personal opinion is that the commissioners need to hear unfiltered information from qualified department heads and employees. Hiring a qualified financial manager is essential. Until this county begins moving strongly in a positive financial direction, there is no need for an unqualified unprofessional county manager.

---- Concerned Elbert County resident