The Grand County Council chose to not accept a counteroffer made by the top candidate for county administrator at their special meeting Monday morning.
The Council had offered a $75,000 salary and severance package to the candidate last week.
At the July 29 special meeting Grand County human resources director Orlinda Robertson said that the candidate had followed up with a counter offer, requesting $10,000 more in salary in order to cover the cost of living in the Moab area.
“He was adamant about the figure he offered,” Robertson said.
Councilmen Chris Baird, Chris Conrad and councilwoman Audrey Graham voted to offer an $80,000 salary, plus the full original severance package. Councilmen Gene Ciarus, Jim Nyland and Ken Ballentyne voted no.
Robertson was directed to speak with the candidate and to tell him he is hired if he would accept the original offer of $75,000 a year.
If he does not accept the offer, the council will again review the applicant pool for new candidates. Gene Ciarus, Chris Baird and Ken Ballentyne will sit on the committee to review the applications.
Graham expressed disappointment in the final vote on Monday.
“If we have a weak or inexperienced county administrator we will have a weak county council. That means we will have weak citizen representation within county government,” Graham said.
During the July 29 special meeting the council debated whether to accept the $85,000 counter offer, make an additional counter offer, or to continue searching for a different candidate.
During the discussion, one theme became clear as Grand County Council administrative assistant Ruth Dillon surmised, “This isn’t about the candidate. This is about the money.”
Employees and council members all reflected that the candidate had the experience, education and demeanor desired for the position.
Marvin Day, Grand County facilities supervisor, escorted the candidate during his on-site interview.
“Everyone connected with him,” Day said. “He seemed to have an understanding of their departments and programs. Nobody had a bad thing to say about him.”
A counter offer of a $5000 increase in annual salary was discussed, on the condition that no severance package would be available.
Councilmembers Chris Conrad, Chris Baird and Audrey Graham voted to provide the counter offer. Councilmen Gene Ciarus and Jim Nyland voted no. Councilwoman Pat Holyoak and councilman Ken Ballentyne were not in attendance. Four votes were needed for a decision to make a counter offer.
“We may have to change the requirements to meet some of the needs for someone local,” Nyland said. “They know the area, they know how we function. It may be better suited for someone in the community and we’d provide a job for someone locally.”