New Mohave supervisors keep campaign promise - technically, anyway

Titles changed, but officials maintained employment - and their salaries

Joy Brotherton

Joy Brotherton

KINGMAN - The three new Mohave County supervisors kept their campaign promise to eliminate the four deputy county manager positions and change the duties of the county manager on Monday - sort of.

The deputy county manager positions were cut from the county's administrative paperwork, but in reality only one, Dana Hlavac, found himself out of a job. Two others, Susie Parel-Duranceau and John Timko, kept their current pay and became department managers and Mike Hendrix was promoted to acting county administrator with a $4,000 a year raise.

District 4 Supervisor Joy Brotherton said she kept her campaign promise to eliminate the positions.

"There are no more deputy county managers," she said.

Those who were moved back to being department heads no longer have authority over multiple departments, Brotherton said.

Parel-Duranceau, the former deputy county manager of health and community services, was moved back to her former position as community development director at her current pay of more than $137,000 a year.

Timko, the former deputy county manager of management services, was also moved back to his old position of county finance director. Timko has a $148,000 a year contract with the county, which was renewed in January 2012 and lasts until May.

The Board decided, after an executive session at the end of the day Monday, not to move Hlavac, who served as the county's deputy county manager of criminal justice services for the last four years, back to his old position as Mohave County Public Defender.

Brotherton was disappointed that the Board decided not to reduce the salary of Parel-Duranceau.

"We couldn't do anything with Mr. Timko's salary. He's under contract," Brotherton said. "I did vote against Mrs. Parel-Duranceau (getting her previous position back), not because I didn't think she deserved it. She does a wonderful job. I voted against it because I didn't think it was fair that she keep the same salary she had as a deputy county manager."

As for Hlavac, Brotherton said, it could have caused the county problems if he moved back to his old position as public defender.

Hlavac has access to the different cases the county attorney's office, legal defender and public defender's offices are working on. That could present a conflict of interest if he returned to his previous job, she said.

Hlavac agreed that returning to his previous position might have caused problems.

"I gave a good, almost 12 years to the county. I think I accomplished a great deal. Not that I wouldn't want my old job back," he joked.

Moss agreed with Brotherton, but money was also an issue, he said. The current public defender makes less money than Hlavac, why replace someone who is doing a good job at a lower salary with someone who has a higher salary? He asked.

However, Moss took a different path with Parel-Duranceau's salary. He said he voted to keep her at her current salary because she would actually have more departments under her wing than when she was a deputy county manager.

Moss also pointed out Parel-Duranceau's departments have very little impact on the county's budget because most of their funding comes from grants that she and others in the department work hard to get.

Also, the cut in pay wouldn't amount to much, he said. Parel-Duranceau would have moved from $137,000 to $132,000 a year.

"She's been hitting homerun after homerun with these grants. Why would we want to penalize that?" Moss asked. "This reorganization is a work in progress. It's going to take a few meetings."

The Board also changed the title for the county's head administrator from county manager to county administrator, rescinded the ordinance that detailed the county manager's duties in favor of a simple job description and signed a six-month contract for $140,000 a year with former Deputy County Manager of Development Services Mike Hendrix to fill in as acting county administrator until a new person is chosen.

As a deputy county manager, Hendrix earned around $137,000 a year. His contract offers him a chance to apply for the county administrator position. If he's not chosen for the position, he's been offered a chance to serve as an assistant to the new administrator until August and/or take back his old position of county engineer.

The Board also argued over removing the authority to hire and fire department heads from the county administrator. Previously the county manager was the only person who could hire or fire a department head.

"I don't want to usurp the authority of the county administrator. I just want employees to be able to talk with Board members," said District 4 Supervisor Joy Brotherton.

"In my experience, it's not going to work. You need a day-to-day administrator," District 3 Supervisor Buster Johnson said during Monday's meeting.

Moss admitted that his motion was intended to undermine some of the county administrator's power over department heads.

"I want staff to know that the ultimate power lies with the Board of Supervisors," he said. In previous administrations, the county manager had too much control over the department heads and the Board only heard one opinion on matters.

"The Board abdicated power to the county manager. I want to hear the debate between department heads," Moss said.

The Board unanimously approved giving itself the authority to hire and fire department heads.