PORT ANGELES — The Clallam County commissioners agreed Monday they should hire a chief financial officer before restarting their search for a new county administrator.
Last month the board rescinded its conditional offer to hire David Fraser as its next administrator after discovering information that showed he isn’t the “right fit” for the county, commissioners said.
Commissioners have not said publicly what information was discovered.
Now commissioners are focused on hiring a chief financial officer before Auditor’s Chief Accountant Stan Creasey retires.
Commissioner Mark Ozias said this approach will give the county “breathing room” as it looks to fill its top administrative position.
Rich Sill, director of Human Resources, will fill in as the interim county administrator when Administrator Jim Jones retires Oct. 15.
Ozias directed Sill to work with Strategic Government Resources, the headhunting firm the county used in its first administrator search, to develop a hiring plan and a projected timeline for the chief financial officer position.
Sill said the county wouldn’t need to develop a new contract with the firm.
“They are open if you want to utilize them,” he said. “We do have credit with SGR that can be used with either position.”
SGR’s $27,000 contract with the county allows for a second search for free if the first search is unsuccessful.
“I’m concerned [both positions] are important and we want to do the best we can to get them right,” Ozias said.
“I feel more comfortable taking our time with the county administrator search and taking the next couple of weeks and focusing on finalizing the CFO job description and recruitment strategy.”
Commissioner Randy Johnson expressed concern about attempting to recruit during the holiday season, which was among the reasons he wanted to push for the chief financial officer first.
The Clallam County commissioners have proposed creating a finance department they said would streamline the county’s finances as it looks at removing financial responsibilities from the county administrator position.
Part of that involves hiring a chief financial officer.
The county attempted to put the issue to voters, but due to a paperwork error the measure will not appear on the Nov. 6 ballot. It would have changed the county charter.
Officials have said the county can create a finance department without changing the county charter so long as the department does not affect the statutory duties of elected officials.
Johnson questioned whether any of the 32 candidates who applied for county administrator may be interested in the position. He said about half of them had a background in finance.
Commissioners said they would like to hire the chief financial officer in early December and have them start close to the start of 2019.
Commissioner Bill Peach said he is concerned about continuity and that it would be helpful having Creasey work with the new chief financial officer before he retires.
“I know he’s talked at length how he didn’t have that support when he came in,” Jones said of Creasey. “If we start [the search] right away, I think we have the potential to get somebody selected prior to the first of December to give them time to give their proper notice and be here in early January.”
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.