La Paz County Administrator Ron Drake has resigned. The County Board of Supervisors agreed to a “mutual separation agreement” with Drake at a special meeting Wednesday, Dec. 16.
According to the terms of the agreement, Drake’s employment will be ended as of Dec. 31. He will be on administrative leave starting Dec. 17. He will receive severance pay equivalent to six months of his salary.
The special meeting was held following a meeting Dec. 15 where the board discussed the agreement in executive session for 90 minutes.
District 2 Supervisor asked about the terms of the agreement, saying that wasn’t what was in Drake’s contract with the county. Deputy County Civil Attorney Ryan Dooley said the separation agreement superseded the previous contract. Under that contract, Drake would receive nine months’ severance pay if he was fired, but none if he voluntarily resigned.
Minor said he and the other Supervisors had only been informed of this on short notice. He said he wasn’t sure if this was something the board should be handling as there is a new Supervisor, Dave Plunkett, who will be assuming his post in early January.
“I feel this is something the new board should take care of,” he said.
District 3 Supervisor Holly Irwin, the board’s chairperson, said she had no problems with the terms of the agreement. She added there were a lot of “unknowns” as to what will happen in January 2021.
“I don’t want to keep an employee here if he doesn’t want to be here,” she said.
The vote in favor of the separation agreement was 2-1, with Irwin and District 1 Supervisor D.L. Wilson voting in favor of it and Minor voting against it.
Drake became County Administrator in June 2017. He came in at a time when the county was going through a financial crisis. Stabilizing the county’s finances was one of the accomplishments he listed as happening during his time in office.
He listed many other accomplishments, including raising the county’s state-mandated spending limit in 2018. He said La Paz was the only county in the state that wasn’t having problems with their spending limits.
Drake said the improvements in the county’s financial situation allowed the county to lobby for the conveyance of land from the Bureau of Land Management and the State Land Department, and this led to the county attracting world-class solar energy projects.
In Drake’s time in office, the county reworked their IT department, brought in new software and phones, created a new employee handbook, and rewrote job descriptions to better describe what each job entailed.
“We’ve done a lot of great things,” Drake said. “I appreciate it that the Supervisors allowed me to help the county. What we saw was the staff and board working to improve the county.”