Vernon County committee approves $18,600 recruitment contract to fill open finance director position

VIROQUA, Wis. – Last week the Vernon County General Government Committee approved a $18,600 contract with an outside recruiting firm to try to find someone to fill the open finance director position that has been vacant for about four months. The position has been open since former finance director Bobbi Johnson resigned following a $2 million mistake in calculating last year’s property tax assessments. You can read our previous story about Johnson’s resignation here.

Human Resources Director Trisha Lepke had approached the committee in previous meetings about using an outside agency for recruitment to fill the position that has a very specific skill set with a small candidate pool, but the committee asked that she exhaust all the usual methods of recruitment before going to an outside agency.  To date, Lepke said she has spent $4,634 on recruitment that has produced 32 candidates with 11 pre-screen interviews, but no candidate to fill the position.

Lepke has previously presented the option to use the firm Public Administration Associates (PAA) to look for candidates for the county. The committee asked Lepke and County Administrative Coordinator Cassandra Hanan to talk to any surrounding counties to see if any of them had ever used PAA for recruitment and what their experience had been. Hanan reported that she had spoken to two other counties who used PAA and were happy with their service and resulted in successfully filling a previously unfilled position.

Hanan said Grant County used PAA to recruit their finance director with good success and is using the firm again to recruit a county administrator. Grant County reported to Hanan that it took a couple of rounds of recruitment, but they were able to bring in a number of qualified candidates within about four months using PAA. Hanan said the other county she contacted was Kewaunee County who used PAA successfully to find “highly qualified” candidates to fill their administrator position within the contracted timetable and were “extremely happy” with the service.

Under the proposal the county would pay $18,600 in three phases if the county ultimately hires someone for the position through PAA. One third of the contract would be paid when recruitment documents are approved, one third of the payment would be due upon selection of a finalist for the job, and one third would be due upon hiring someone.

Hanan said the county has funds available in the budget to pay for the services. Since the finance director position has been vacant the county has saved about $41,601 in salary. Hanan has been picking up most of the duties with the help of other department personnel and an outside CPA at a cost of around $13,000.

County Board Chair Lorn Goede asked to have a clarification in the contract to allow the county to hire someone that has not been recruited by PAA. Hanan said the number of people that have inquired or applied for the position has dropped off significantly even with the aggressive posting for four months.

The committee unanimously approved moving forward with the contract but it was unclear if the expenditure needed to approved by the finance committee or approved by the full county board. Hanan said if the contract needs approval from either of those bodies she will make sure it gets the proper approvals before finalizing the agreement with PAA.

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  • I enjoy reading about your part of Wisconsin. I reside more towards east central Wisconsin. I hold an Associate Degree in Accounting and a Bachelor Degree in Criminal Justice. These degrees have afforded me to look at life a bit differently! All for now.

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