County makes interim county administrator job offer

Mesa County commissioners will offer the interim county administrator job to former Department of Human Services Director Tom Papin, banking on someone who is familiar with the community but far enough removed from it to stand up to the board.

During a brief meeting with County Attorney Lyle Dechant and county spokeswoman Jessica Peterson on Tuesday, commissioners agreed to try to bring in Papin by the beginning of January, if not before then.

Papin, 65, headed the county of Department of Human Services for eight years before resigning in January 2005, immediately before commissioners Craig Meis and Janet Rowland took office. Papin left Colorado to become director of Hillsborough County Children’s Services in Tampa, Fla.

Papin retired from that job earlier this year, Rowland said.

Rowland said Papin contacted her last week after learning the county was looking to hire an interim county administrator and said he was interested in the position. Stefani Conley, who has been serving as the interim administrator since Jon Peacock resigned in July, has told commissioners she is burned out and ready to return to her duties as the assistant county administrator.

Commissioners agreed they prefer to hire someone from outside the county to fill the interim administrator post because, as Rowland said, that person might be more “willing to push back on us and give us feedback” than someone currently within the organization.

Referring to Papin, Rowland said she believes he will “push back.” In addition, she said, “He knows the community, the players. He can really hit the ground running.”

Commissioners talked about offering Papin $10,000 a month in pay, plus a stipend, to serve for a three- to six-month period. Rowland said Papin isn’t interested in the permanent job.

Meis said former Grand Junction City Manager Mark Achen, who now works as a consultant to local governments, recommended to him that the county consider temporarily hiring one of three former public administrators: former Aurora City Manager Ron Miller, former Colorado Springs City Manager Penny Culbreth-Graft and Jim Mullen, who most recently was the project director for Actus Lend Lease development company’s Colorado Springs office. Mullen was one of the five finalists for the county administrator job. Commissioners tendered a conditional offer to former Florida executive Michael Freilinger but declined to make a formal offer after disagreeing.

Commissioners could choose to pursue one of those three individuals if they are unable to come to terms with Papin.

While commissioners look to bring an interim administrator on board, they will consider whether to hire a permanent administrator or assume day-to-day control of county government themselves.


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