Officials discuss search for new Grand County manager
The Grand County Board of Commissioners will open up the position of county manager to applicants statewide and beyond.
The board discussed the process of replacing Lurline Underbrink Curran at its meeting on Tuesday afternoon, Aug. 11, a few hours after she announced her resignation.
During the meeting, commissioners discussed the hiring process for the county manager position.
“The county can recruit on its own,” said County Attorney Alan Hassler. “I’ve watched a number of counties choose managers, and I’ve seen them do it internally; I’ve seen them do it by national and by local search.”
Commissioner Kris Manguso suggested hiring a “headhunter” to assist with the search.
Commissioner James Newberry said using an outside recruiter would only add another step to the hiring process and questioned whether “political reasons” were the underlying motive for doing so.
The question prompted a sarcastic reply from Curran, who has been accused of nepotism by the group Citizens for Transparency in Grand County Government.
“Nobody from my family is applying so you don’t have to worry about that,” Curran said, eliciting laughs from some of those present. “I’m just saying.”
Newberry added jokingly, “Nobody that you know is going to apply,” ostensibly referring to past suggestions that a friendship between Hassler and Curran’s family played a role in his recent hiring as county attorney.
Assistant County Manager Ed Moyer said the position would be posted on the Colorado City and County Management Association website and possibly the website for the International City/County Management Association.
Newberry initially expressed reservations about going beyond a statewide search.
“We talked about this a little bit, but I’m not as big on the national level,” Newberry said.
Moyer said the county would most likely receive out-of-state applicants either way.
“I don’t know why we wouldn’t open as wide of a net as we possibly could,” Manguso said.
The board agreed that the application should state that work experience in Colorado is preferred.
Curran and Moyer said they believed the county would get an overwhelming number of applications.
“Well, based on how many people tell us they know how to run things, yea, we should have thousands,” Linke quipped.
The board agreed that a headhunter could be hired if the initial search was unsuccessful.
The board also discussed revising the job description for the position.
Linke said the current position had been formed in part by Curran’s skill set and the county’s next manager may not have the same strengths.
“I think that, based on that, we probably do need to tweak that job description a little bit to allow some latitude, allow that position to evolve as the person shows strengths or areas that they’re more knowledgeable about,” Linke said.
Linke also suggested changing the position title from “manager” to “administrator,” adding that it’s “more of a descriptive term in terms of what I feel that position does.”
Board may maintain relationship with Curran
Newberry also briefly mentioned the possibility of maintaining a relationship with Curran for the purpose of continuing water issues, suggesting that discussions on the matter had already taken place.
“There’s been some discussion that we’ve had with the county manager about water-related issues, those type of things,” Newberry said, questioning whether the board would “need to have that conversation, what we were looking for and what we would like to talk about as far as continuing with those waters things.”
Curran has played a major role in county water negotiations during her tenure.
The board did not discuss the matter further.
Hassler said he would provide the board with a revised job description and a list of interview questions possibly by the end of this week.
Linke expressed hope that the position could be posted as early as next week.
Curran suggested the position would be open to applicants for 30 days, after which the board would conduct interviews.
“It will be fall, late fall before you probably get someone in the position,” Curran said, adding that Moyer “is certainly skilled enough to handle all the duties that are necessary until then.”
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