Administrator gets glowing review from commissioners

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Ouray County commissioners told County Administrator Connie Hunt last week during her annual performance evaluation that she works too hard and is too good at what she does, and tasked her with taking a vacation.

Commissioners gave the glowing performance evaluation in the sunny courtyard outside the newly renovated courthouse, for which Hunt was instrumental in obtaining funding.

Commissioners asked Hunt to cross-train staff to take on roles without her oversight, then take a three- to four-week vacation as a test of staffs ability to keep the county going without her.

Hunt has served as county administrator for 17 years, with 30 years total in county government. Her biggest accomplishments are coming to completion this year-overseeing and securing grant funding for the courthouse renovations and the installation of fiber optic cable from Montrose, over Log Hill Mesa and into Ouray.

Hunt plans to retire in three years and has repeatedly let her accumulated vacation time go unused.

Chairman Don Batchelder told Hunt she needs to train staff with the mindset that she may not be there tomorrow and pull herself away from micromanaging to ensure the county can run effi cientl y without her.

"You are too good at what you do," Batchelder told Hunt.

Hunt admitted she struggles with letting go and having "total trust and faith" leaving the management of the county's $15 million budget in someone else's hands long enough to take a vacation. She said she was not concerned with bad ethics, but rather simple errors and oversights.

Commissioner Ben Tisdel encouraged her to delegate tasks and empower her staff, saying "I think they have shown they can handle things."

Tisdel also cautioned her not to let herself get burned out.

"You have gone above and beyond as long as I have been a commissioner," Commissioner John Peters said.

Peters asked her to work on team building and assessment of operations with commissioners and her staff, focusing on helping employees feel their worth and value.

Hunt said she would feel better about letting go if commissioners wo ul d approve another staff member in next year's budget. She has long asked for a public relations officer, but at this work session she emphasized the need for someone with a background in finance similar to her own, as she was in banking before county government.

Commissioners agreed to support an additional staff member in next year's budget.

Commissioners gave Hunt top scores on all the evaluation questions, which covered the quality of her work, fiscal management, leadership and communication.

Hunt's performance "in almost all areas continues to be extraordinary," Batchelder said. "Her understanding makes the process work at a high level, but she does not act like a fourth commissioner, nor is that the perception of the public."

The employment contract for Hunt, who makes $112,594 a year, calls for her to be reviewed on criteria developed by her and the board on a yearly basis. Performance evaluation guidelines set by the county allow a merit bonus of up to 1 percent based on evaluation scores.