The board of supervisors this week asked top county executive
Dan Vrtis to resign
– meaning San Benito County is set to lose its third head
manager in eight months.
Hollister – The board of supervisors this week asked top county executive Dan Vrtis to resign – meaning San Benito County is set to lose its third head manager in eight months.

Supervisors agreed to request his resignation in a closed session meeting Tuesday, several officials confirmed. The board gave him no reasons for his dismissal, said Vrtis, who expects to submit a resignation letter Friday.

It’s unclear who voted for his removal or what spurred the decision, though Supervisor Reb Monaco said he opposed the verdict and that the vote was not unanimous.

Monaco said he had no problems with Vrtis’ performance as county administrative officer. Nor did some other county officials, who have heralded Vrtis’ engineering of a balanced budget for this fiscal year while avoiding significant program cuts and layoffs.

Monaco also called the timing of the dismissal poor, because there’s an election in November and three new supervisors will take office in January.

“It’s going to be a disruption to our county,” Monaco said.

Among other supervisors, Ruth Kesler confirmed the board’s decision but declined to say if she voted for his removal; Richard Scagliotti, when reached by phone, hung up; Bob Cruz didn’t return calls; and Pat Loe declined to comment.

“That’s all personnel,” Loe said. “No comment.”

Vrtis also confirmed the board offered – and he will accept – the finance director position he held before his promotion to CAO in early June. There’s no indication of how the county plans to fill the role.

Vrtis was disappointed in the board’s decision, he said. And while he’s been on the job for less than three months, he’s proud of his efforts to help balance the budget and improve the county’s recognition of its employees, he said.

“I started something and I felt I accomplished quite a bit,” said Vrtis, who has 32 years of experience in government work, though this is his first stint as CAO.

When he steps down, Vrtis will join former CAO Terrence May in the recent ranks of county employees who accepted a promotion to the lead management position – only to abruptly resign within months.

The board picked May over Vrtis in January to succeed former CAO Gil Solorio when he resigned after three years on the job. May, after an argument with Cruz on June 3, left work and never returned. Supervisors immediately hired Vrtis, who had been the county’s finance director since 2001.

After the closed-door meeting Tuesday, County Counsel Karen Forcum didn’t publicly report the board’s decision. She declined to comment Wednesday on Vrtis’ resignation and reiterated that “there was no reportable action” from this week’s board meeting. There’s another meeting scheduled for Sept. 7.

Kesler, meanwhile, who will leave office when her term expires at year’s end, said Vrtis “wanted to go back upstairs (to the auditor’s office).”

Other officials, including Vrtis, indicated otherwise. Vrtis even said if a different board offered him the CAO job again, he would accept it. Three new supervisors take office in January – taking over seats held by Cruz, Kesler and Scagliotti.

“If a new board wanted me to come back, I’d be more than willing to come back,” Vrtis said.

One of the incoming supervisors, Jaime De La Cruz, called the board’s decision “very, very foolish and very political.” He believes Vrtis is highly qualified for the CAO position, De La Cruz said.

“You’ve got about four months to go and a whole new board coming in,” he said, adding he hopes current supervisors hire an interim CAO so the new board has an “opportunity to give direction.”

Clerk John Hodges called the board’s action “the rottenest thing they could do.” He expressed disdain toward the decision one day after supervisors agreed to pursue state legislation to strip Hodges of his authority over local elections.

“They used the man,” Hodges said. “They used him and then put him back on the shelf.”

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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