Lassen County searches for new administrative officer
“Whatever we do, we need to start now,” said District 3 Supervisor Lloyd Keefer. “With the advertising and the interview process, we’ll be darn lucky, starting today, to have somebody on board by Jan. 1.”
Personnel Director Ron Vossler said major, nationwide executive search firms such as Merit Systems Services and Bob Murray charge $25,000 per search, not including any type of community input.
“The other option would be one that we have used in the past,” Vossler said. “That is we have the capability of printing color brochures ourselves.”
He said the staff-produced brochures are not glossy, but have successfully attracted qualified candidates in the past. Vossler asked for two board members to work with his office to come up with a specific salary and benefits to offer the new CAO.
“I have found that those advertisements that strictly state salary negotiable have less response than if you put some kind of a benchmark in there,” Vossler said, “because some people feel that their requirements for salary may not be what we’re willing to pay so the don’t apply at all.”
Calaveras County, which “is pretty close to our size,” Vossler said, recently offered $155,000 for a CAO’s salary.
“That’s cheap, I hate to tell you,” said District 5 Supervisor Jack Hanson executive search firms in the private sector charge 25 percent of the salary offered,.
Board Chairman Brian Dahle suggested Vossler advertise the vacancy through the County Supervisors Association of California, since Lassen County is already a member of CSAC. Vossler said he would advertise with CSAC and the National Association of Counties.
Saying he had no problem with an in-house search, Keefer added he did not want to use a nationwide search firm anyway, because the new CAO needs to be familiar with California laws and legislative procedures.
Dahle appointed District 1 Supervisor Bob Pyle to work with Vossler on the salary range for the new CAO.
Previously the county counsel since June 2002, Ketelsen became the county’s chief administrative officer on July 1, 2005.
As county counsel, Ketelsen expressed interest in the position after CAO Bill Bixby announced in late February 2005 he was leaving on July 15. The Board of Supervisors voted to appoint Ketelsen to the CAO paying him roughly $120,000 a year to start, based on 81 percent of a superior court judge’s salary. Every time the judges got a raise, the CAO also got a raise.
The two-year contract the board approved also included a car allowance, an employer-paid disability benefit, life insurance and an annual physical at county expense. It also provided severance pay of six months salary for involuntary termination.
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