Tuesday, May 22 2012 - The San Juan County Council today formally approved a consultant agreement retaining veteran government manager Robert W. Jean to serve as County Administrator Pro Tem. Jean will act as the County’s chief administrative officer until a permanent replacement is found for departing administrator Pete Rose.
The Council has decided to postpone recruiting a permanent Administrator pending resolution of proposals put forward by the Charter Review Committee. Those proposals, which will appear on the November ballot, could radically reshape the County’s government and the job description of the County Administrator.
The newly signed Administrator Pro Tem has told the Council he will be available to serve through the end of March if necessary. Jean retired as City Manager of University Place, Washington, in 2010 and subsequently served as interim administrator for the City of Gillette, Wyoming, for seven months; followed by six months as interim administrator in Lake Forest Park, Washington.
“I’m not really retired,” Jean says, “I enjoy working full time, part of the year.”
He does not regard his duties with San Juan County to be merely a placeholder and Council Chair Patty Miller agreed.
“The Council intends to stay focused on moving our top 2012 initiatives through to completion, including a long range sustainable budget, smooth solid waste transition and resolution of the Critical Areas Ordinance,” Miller said.
She said the Council is pleased to be able to bring an administrator on board who has experience making decisions during transitions, and singled out Human Resources Manager Pamela Morais for praise. “She did an excellent job of finding highly qualified candidates for this position quickly so that we can continue to move forward.”
In a telephone interview, Jean echoed Miller’s concern about the need to move forward, and the budget is among his top priorities.
“San Juan County has already made serious budget cuts,” he said, “so any additional cuts we have to make will require setting priorities, making tough decisions and looking for even more ways to provide services efficiently.”
He added that one urgent task will be to get the message to voters about the need for the three-tenths of a percent Criminal Justice/Public Safety Sales tax, which will appear on the August primary election ballot.
“I don’t come in claiming to have all the answers, but hopefully I can pull the staff and elected officials together as a team so that we can find the answers together.”
The County’s contract for Robert Jean’s services is actually through an agreement with the recruiting firm, The Greg Prothman Company. Jean’s base pay will be approximately $60 per hour, slightly less than the current county administrator’s salary. The contract shows a completion date of March 31, 2012, but there is no minimum term and it may be terminated without penalty at any time.
Jean said he will be on San Juan Island next week for transition discussions with Administrator Pete Rose, County staff and elected officials. Rose’s official last day on the job is June 8.