County manager search kept in house
Garfield County will keep its search for a new county manager in house, utilizing the county’s human resources department rather than hiring an outside head-hunting consultant.
“We did give direction to HR to handle it internally,” Commissioner Tom Jankovsky said last week. “In the past we have hired a headhunter, be we aren’t going to do that this time.
“I feel we have a strong HR department to do this, and it makes sense to keep (the search) in house,” he said.
That search will involve preparation of a job description, which is to be reviewed by county commissioners in September, as well as placement of ads and posting of the open position to solicit applicants.
Commissioners are seeking to replace former county manager Andrew Gorgey, with whom the county parted ways in early July. A “mutual separation agreement” with Gorgey included a six-month, $75,000 severance deal including continued health and retirement benefits through the end of the year.
Gorgey had originally been hired in 2011 as the county attorney, and was named acting county manager early the following year when the county commissioners fired former 13-year county manager Ed Green.
At that time, the commissioners did work with a consulting firm, Peckham & McKenney, to conduct the search for a new manager.
During the early stages of that search, the county was called to the carpet by the Post Independent and its legal representative regarding the legality of a closed-door meeting with the consulting firm to discuss a job description.
The search was temporarily halted until that meeting could take place in public session, after the county’s admission that some of the matters discussed were inappropriate for an executive session.
A follow-up inspection of the audio tape from that meeting by the Post Independent also ended up revealing some of the reasons for the commissioners’ decision to fire Green, and what they were looking for in a new county manager.
At the end of the search process later that spring, the commissioners named three finalists for the position. However, following interviews they decided to pass on the finalists and ultimately named Gorgey as the new county manager.
That led to the hiring of former county attorney Frank Hutfless in August 2012 to replace Gorgey in that position. The county also parted ways with Hutfless earlier this year, when he was forced into a retirement option with a three-month, $37,500 severance.
In the meantime, Deputy County Manager Kevin Batchelder has been serving as acting county manager since Gorgey’s departure, while Assistant County Attorney Tari Williams has been serving as lead legal counsel for the county commissioners.
Jankovsky reiterated that, personally, he would like to have a new full-time county manager on board soon after the first of the year.
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