County studies possible in-house recruitment for HHS director


San Benito County supervisors have decided to try a new strategy in searching for a candidate to fill a top management position in hopes of saving money during a cash-strapped year.

Supervisor Margie Barrios on Tuesday pulled a consent item to approve a contract with Avery and Associates for $19,900 – to recruit a director of the Health and Human Services Agency – and asked her fellow supervisors if they would consider an alternative.

Barrios said she had received advice from someone who suggested supervisors could create a recruiting panel with volunteers from other counties with a background in health and human services, to help identify qualified candidates.

“I thought it was a great suggestion,” she said. “We can advertise free of charge through CSAC (the California State Association of Counties) and RCRC (Rural County Representatives of California.)”

Interim County Administrative Officer Ray Espinosa clarified the money for the recruitment would come out of the HHSA budget and not the general fund.

Espinosa said he was concerned about the timeline for recruitment if the supervisors were to delay signing a contract with Avery and Associates.

“Recruitment takes three to six months,” he said.

Supervisor Robert Rivas said he was skeptical San Benito County has the human resources staffing or expertise to do an in-house recruitment.

“This is a very important position,” he said. “We all discussed how important it is and that’s why it is on the consent agenda.”

Espinosa said it may be difficult “being able to bring the right candidate” without the support of an executive search firm.

“We could potentially save money,” he said. “But when it comes down to it, we will probably go with option B and just defer it out.”

Option B in the discussion included going with Avery and Associates if in-house efforts were not successful.

The contract with Avery and Associates for $19,900 includes a $3,000 discount for multiple searches, as the county has already signed a contract with the agency to recruit a county administrative officer. Espinosa said he did not know if delaying the contract’s signing would impede the discount.

The supervisors voted 4-1 to have staff members research the feasibility of conducting a search for the director of HHSA without an executive search firm with direction to bring the item back to the board in one month.

“I don’t feel a strong sense of urgency as Maria (Corona, the interim director of HHSA) has been doing  a good job with her staff,” Supervisor Anthony Botelho said.

Supervisor Jerry Muenzer voted against the motion.

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