Eagle County commissioner candidates discuss personnel management
October 30, 2016
EAGLE COUNTY — The four candidates this fall for two Eagle County Commissioner seats recently sent email replies to a series of questions. This is the final day of the series that began Friday. The previous stories can be found at http://www.vaildaily.com.
Today's question: Should members of the board of county commissioners leave personnel matters to human resources and the department heads, or should they be more involved?
• Michael Dunahay, Republican challenger in Commissioner District 1, which covers the eastern portion of the county.
The board of county commissioners should leave personnel matters to human resources and the department heads. That is what they are there for. In my discussions with many people to learn about the workings of Eagle County, I have heard stories about questionable practices involving personnel decisions. I would not try to micro-manage people, only encourage positive interaction.
• Jill Ryan, Democratic incumbent in Commissioner District 1.
The question posed here seems to be one of governance. State statute provides for the authority and powers of the board of county commissioners, which is probably the closest thing to a job description. The board is ultimately responsible to its citizens for oversight of county business and operations. We have two direct reports who oversee the day-to-day operations: the county manager and county attorney. Not all counties use an organizational manager, but Eagle County has historically gone this route and we think it's a good one.
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Eagle County's government is organized into departments, with a supervisory reporting structure for all employees. The human resources department also implements an employee performance system to compliment the management structure. The board is regularly apprised of personnel issues and sometimes asked to weigh in. It is not often that the board gets involved, but it does occur for matters that are serious and complex. In those instances, the board works with the county manager, county attorney and human resources director to find the best resolution.
Because the buck stops with the commissioners, the board acting as a decision-making body could theoretically direct a personnel action, but no commissioner could take such an action on their own.
The board openly communicates and works closely with our leadership team in all facets of county functions. This cooperative approach has served us well, and offers the benefit of using more fully the experience, judgment, perceptions, and thinking of a group of dedicated professionals.
• Kathy Chandler-Henry, Democratic incumbent in Commissioner District 2, which covers roughly Eagle to Edwards.
The board of county commissioners in Eagle County has two employees, the county manager and the county attorney. Attorneys report to the county attorney, and all other staff report to the county manager.
Personnel matters are left to the county manager, who consults with human resources and the department heads. The commissioners set policy, and in the case of the current board, we identify priorities through our strategic plan. Our strategic plan provides direction as we allocate resources, assess performance, and ensure we are delivering quality services to our constituents.
Goal number five of our strategic plan states, "Eagle County is a high-performing organization." Our strategies include: recruiting, retaining and developing a top quality county workforce; setting specific goals and measuring performance; providing outstanding customer services; practicing our core values; and working every day in a culture of continuous quality improvement.
I believe my job is to be responsive to all residents of Eagle County, to represent the citizens fairly and to listen to and weigh concerns of the public. Sometimes this means more involvement in our operations; most times it means setting policy and leaving the management of the county to the county manager. I believe we have some of the best county staff in the state, and I am proud to support their efforts in achieving day-to-day work along with our strategic initiatives, on behalf of our citizens. I plan to continue to use my experience to make our county the very best it can be.
• Rick Beveridge, Republican challenger in Commissioner District 2.
Yes, they absolutely should leave personnel matters to human resources and supervisors. The exception would be the county attorney and county manager, who both report directly to the board. The commissioners are the governing body of the county; their focus should be on setting and managing the policy and vision for the organization. The board provides necessary public service as required or authorized by Colorado state statutes, and should focus on establishing, evaluating, and revising county codes, policies, and programs to achieve operational efficiency.
I would advocate that the commissioners fully disclose any conflicts of interest at the start and throughout the course of their term. For the record, my wife is currently an employee of Eagle County working as a nurse in the public health department. In the event that there is ever any perceived conflict with her department or supervisor, I would recuse myself from any decision and would seek advice from the county attorney.
It is unacceptable for a commissioner to take any action that may be perceived as micro-managing the staff. No staff member should ever feel intimidated by a single commissioner, nor should they be fearful of losing their job in the instance of conflict or disagreement.