County commissioners hire former colleague as consultant

— Created May 5, 2021 by Kathy Reed

By Kathy Reed

Island County Commissioners have hired former Commissioner Helen Price Johnson as a consultant to help define – and refine – the role of the county’s Administrative Services Director.

The position was created last year and was filled for a time by Michelle Meyer, who left the job March 4. The position carries a broad range of responsibilities supervising numerous Island County government departments, which commissioners acknowledge needs to be structured better. It is hoped bringing a consultant on board can help better define the role.

“The [job description] will likely change, as that is one of the issues the consultant has been asked to address,” said Catherine Reid, human resources and labor relations manager for Island County, who responded to Whidbey Weekly via email.

According to Reid, this is the first time Island County Commissioners have retained a former commissioner as a consultant.

“I understand that Island County has not retained former county commissioners as consultants because the need had not presented itself,” Reid said. “In the current situation, former County Commissioner Price Johnson is in the unique position of having specific knowledge and experience regarding this issue.”

According to an email sent recently by Reid, Price Johnson was scheduled to speak to current commissioners and various department leaders about the “role, responsibilities and authorities a person in the position will have” and how the Administrative Services Director interacts with departments. Those virtual meetings were set to take place last week.

While the Administrative Services Director position had been posted previously, the consultant job was not. Talk of hiring a consultant came up at a work session held by commissioners March 3, where they discussed the difficulties defining everything the director’s job should entail, and the void Meyer’s departure would create.

“This is a major leadership vacancy, not just in day-to-day tasks, but really in visioning going forward,” said Commissioner Jill Johnson.

“The idea of slowing down before hiring a permanent replacement is a good idea,” said Commissioner Melanie Bacon. “We’re still trying to decide what this job is. My suggestion would be to look at hiring a contractor who will work with us.”

Former commissioner Price Johnson was subsequently hired.

“HPJ Solutions is being paid $100 per hour, not to exceed $6,000 and the contract expires June 30,” said Reid.

The Administrative Services Director position has a salary range of $120,000 to $140,000 annually. The position is currently vacant and the position has not yet been posted again. Commissioners continue to work on defining the parameters of the job, now with help from Price Johnson.