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Humboldt County Supervisors OK creation of chief financial officer

The Times-Standard (Eureka) logo The Times-Standard (Eureka) 4/14/2021 Isabella Vanderheiden
graphical user interface, text, application: At the recommendation of Human Resources Director Linda Le and Sacramento-based accounting firm Macias, Gini & O’Connell, the Humboldt County Board of supervisors approved the reorganization of the County Administrative Office as well as a new Chief Financial Officer position. (Screenshot) © Provided by The Times-Standard (Eureka) At the recommendation of Human Resources Director Linda Le and Sacramento-based accounting firm Macias, Gini & O’Connell, the Humboldt County Board of supervisors approved the reorganization of the County Administrative Office as well as a new Chief Financial Officer position. (Screenshot)

The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to reorganize the County Administrative Office and create two new assistant CAO positions.

The current Assistant CAO Elishia Hayes will continue her existing role and take on the secondary title of chief operating officer. Though her workload will look much the same, Hayes will receive an extra $5,083 in salary and benefits this fiscal year, according to the staff report. The county will recruit a candidate to fill the second position, assistant CAO/chief financial officer.

“To further streamline resources based on countywide needs and opportunities to enhance the economy, efficiency, and effectiveness of management and operations in the near- and long-term, it is recommended that the CAO has an organizational strategy structured around two assistant county administrative officer positions, one focused on countywide operations and direct services and one focused on countywide fiscal activities, financial administration and management, countywide budget and special projects,” the staff report stated.

Humboldt County Human Resources Director Linda Le and Sacramento-based accounting firm, Macias Gini O’Connell (MGO) recommended the creation of a chief financial officer position following months of back-and-forth between supervisors, the CAO’s office and the auditor-controller’s office regarding delays in payments, transfers, and reconciliations of accounts.

During Tuesday’s meeting, Le and MGO partner Scott Johnson reiterated that the new role of chief financial officer would not supersede the duties of Auditor-Controller Karen Paz Dominguez.

“We’re not proposing a duplication of effort. We’re not proposing to take away any duties of the auditor-controller’s office but these are, clearly in an organization of your size and complexity, these are duties and responsibilities that you would see of a (chief financial officer) that oversees countywide fiscal operations and coordinate as a liaison to the auditor controller’s office,” Johnson said. “… I want to really reiterate, this is not a duplication of effort of any of those job duties and responsibilities.”

Le added that she has been in communication with Paz Dominguez and plans to address her concerns about the staffing study as well as collaboration and cooperation with her office.

During public comment, an anonymous community member accused Le and MGO of looking for a way to “take over” the auditor-controller.

“I don’t see how this is cool,” the caller said. “… She hasn’t even been given a chance and it seems like you’re just doing your very, very, very best to make her quit. I mean I realize that you guys hate her or something but also, is Linda Le applying for this job? I thought she was an HR.”

After public comment, 4th District Supervisor Virginia Bass acknowledged that Le used to be a chief financial officer and said, “I don’t think she has any interest in it here.”

Le clarified that she was not interested in the position and said, “Just because I have a finance background, that doesn’t mean I have an interest at this stage in my career to talk about numbers.”

Second District Supervisor Michelle Bushnell added, “I recognize that sometimes information gets out but is not correct, and you should in no way have to defend yourself.”

Supervisors ultimately voted to approve staff’s recommendation in a 4-0 vote with 3rd District Supervisor Mike Wilson absent.

Isabella Vanderheiden can be reached at 707-441-0504.

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