County Administrator announces restructuring

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By Roger Snodgrass

County Administrator Anthony Mortillaro announced Wednesday that he had named Regina Wheeler to a newly titled position, assistant to the county administrator.

Among several organizational changes that came out of a period of review and consultation with staff and county councilors, Mortillaro also added the role of administrative services director to the responsibilities of Chief Financial Officer Steve Lynne.  

Mortillaro was appointed as county administrator after the retirement of Max Baker on Oct. 21 and the announcement noted that he has been meeting daily since then with staff and county councilors.

“I’m looking at what we need to get done here in terms of major issues facing the county and our strategic goals,” Mortillaro said in an interview Tuesday afternoon. “In addition, I want to strengthen the focus on one of our council’s top goals ­— to diversify the economy and revitalize our downtowns.”

The changes will not impact county budgets, Mortillaro said, noting that his former position of assistant county administrator would not be filled and the total number of positions in the organization will remain unchanged.

Mortillaro said he plans to use existing budget dollars allocated to his former position to avoid additional costs.

“There will be no new full time employees,” Mortillaro said “Everybody including myself is taking on extra work.”

In the reorganization, the savings from Mortillaro’s vacated position will be used to create the newly titled position of assistant to the county administrator.

Wheeler, who is currently serving as environmental services manager, will assume the new role and her existing position will be reclassified to incorporate these additional duties, according to the restructuring plan. The duties associated with the position will include responsibilities related to the county’s environmental sustainability program.

Wheeler will also continue to assist with environmental reviews and coordination of the Solid Waste Management Unit monthly meetings with the Department of Energy and Los Alamos National Laboratory.

“Regina has reported to me for five years,” Mortillaro said. “I’m familiar with the quality of her work. I’ve given her additional assignments over a period of time that she’s tackled with great enthusiasm and good results. I have confidence that putting her in the role would serve the county and community well.”

In addition, he said, Wheeler would assume responsibility for oversight of the Airport Division and supervision of the airport manager, a role that was formerly part of Mortillaro’s duties as assistant county administrator. She will also represent the county at the Española Basin Regional Issues Forum.

In other management areas related to enhancing the county’s existing services and programs, Mortillaro said that he plans to reactivate the vacant position of Administrative Services Director; however, the new position to be filled by Steve will be re-titled Administrative Services Director/Chief Financial Officer.

“Steve has been with the county for 10 years,” Mortillaro said. “He has great fiscal acumen and he understands how all the pieces fit together. I thought that would be a great for him,”

He added that Lynne’s current duties as the county’s chief financial officer would be integrated into this new position.

Lynne will have oversight of the Administrative Services Department with the following divisions: Office of Management and Budget, Purchasing/Risk Management and Information Technology. He will report to Assistant County Administrator Stepan.

Mortillaro said another newly created position would fill the urgent need for staff to focus exclusively on economic development, which was a large portion of his time as assistant county administrator over the last five years. An external search will begin immediately to fill the position of economic vitality administrator, to serve as a key member of the county administrator’s strategic development team.

A draft economic vitality plan reviewed by the Council last month and will be moving forward to gather public comments this winter before being finalized in February. The idea of having an individual dedicated to economic development was expressed by the council when they met with county staff at a Nov. 14  planning session.

“We’ll be doing more with the same number of people and with the same amount of dollars as before,” Mortillaro said.