Commissioners advised to hire permanent administrator

An interim Mesa County administrator has recommended that the commissioners hire a permanent administrator, but also change their involvement with county departments.

“I believe the county administrator position is a vital link in the county’s current structure. But I also recommend developing a mechanism to create a more direct link between the county’s elected officials and staff,” said Tom Papin.

Papin, a former director of the Mesa County Department of Human Services, was hired in December to work as interim administrator for three to six months.

The decision was the latest step in what’s been a lengthy process to replace former Mesa County Administrator Jon Peacock, who resigned in July. Peacock subsequently was hired as county manager in Pitkin County.

At the time he was hired, the Mesa County commissioners directed Papin to analyze different options for the county organizational structure and asked him to make recommendations on how to best configure county leadership roles.

Papin said he’s spent the last month gathering comments from county employees, elected officials and community members while formulating his analysis.

The commissioners expressed initial support for Papin’s recommendations. They said they plan to implement a new organizational model in which each commissioner will act as a communication liaison between the full board of commissioners and individual departments.

Commissioners also will participate on the county communication, fiscal advisory, innovation and quality assurance committees.

“This involvement will allow the members of the board to more clearly articulate their vision for the direction of the county directly to department heads and to more fully understand challenges faced by individual departments,” Papin said. “My suggestion is to add new facets to the organizational structure.”

The commissioners said they plan to make changes to their role in the county structure while renewing efforts to hire a county administrator.

Details of how to proceed with an executive search — and how the new leadership structure will function — have not yet been decided, however.