Interim Clallam County Administrator Rich Sill is likely to become the county’s permanent administrator after having served in the temporary position for nearly a year.
Clallam County commissioners during a work session on Sept. 3 agreed that the county should combine the human resources director position with the county administrator position while assigning some duties to other positions, a move that would allow the county leadership to have a “team-centered approach,” Sill said.
Sill presented five options to the commissioners, ranging from continuing the hiring process for a new administrator to combining positions with the administrator or changing the county charter to give the administrator responsibilities to a county commissioner.
All three commissioners agreed that the third option presented — combining the human resource director position with the administrator position — was the best option.
Commissioners Mark Ozias and Randy Johnson, who attended the meeting, said they liked that idea most.
Commissioner Bill Peach, who was in Olympia for a state Board of Natural Resources meeting, said in a phone interview that he liked that idea most as well.
“I think it’s a good direction,” Peach said. “One of the thing I believe in is looking at continuity. I’m looking five years down the road: are we preparing people for additional responsibilities?”
Sill has been the county’s interim administrator since October of last year. At that time he was the county’s human resources director, risk manager and county claims administrator.
Commissioners appointed Sill as interim administrator when former administrator Jim Jones retired and after the county rescinded a job offer from the top candidate for that position, who commissioners said at the time would not be the “right fit” for the county.
The county never disclosed what information it learned about the candidate that caused commissioners to take back the job offer.
The county then shifted its focus to onboarding a chief financial officer — who has now been working with the county for several months — before filling its top administrative position.
“Rich has done a really good job and a lot of it has to do with executing on the commissioners’ vision of having good morale, high quality work place and focusing on people,” Peach said.
The option commissioners tentatively selected would require assigning additional duties of the risk manager and claims administrator to a deputy county administrator/human resources director.
Sill told commissioners this change would create redundancies in leadership and that commissioners could expect to maintain “significant salary savings,” though some of those savings would be spent on increasing the deputy human resources director’s salary.
Separating the risk manager and claims administrator roles from Sill’s position would address workload issues while the deputy human resources director would handle selected personnel matters.
Combining the two roles would likely require changes in policy, specifically in sections in which the administrator provides oversight to the human resources director, officials said.
Civil Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Elizabeth Stanley told commissioners that in some cases, current policy would make the human resources director/administrator position accountable to itself.
Policy currently says the county administrator makes final decision on some personnel issues and policy strikes a division of power between the two positions.
“If there is a combined HR Director/Administrator Role, it would make sense if the Administrator’s duties that involve oversight of HR fiscal requests be transferred to another division,” Stanley wrote in a legal review.
Ozias said that this option “does the best job of capturing the strengths of what we’re doing now wit ha little extra specificity.”
He said it makes sense to separate risk management and claims from the human resources director and administrator position.
Ozias directed Sill to talk to Peach — who wasn’t at the meeting — about his thoughts and to bring to commissioners more details about the transition, which would be discussed in a future work session.
Ozias suggested that the a final decision on how to deal with the administrator position should be made by the end of the calendar year.