Ellen Smyth, a city employee who has been "on loan" to El Paso County has helped identify a plan for a permanent county administrator, she said on Wednesday.
County Judge Veronica Escobar, who has focused on internal reform at the county, said the position is meant to streamline government and create internal controls. Commissioners voted down the creation of a permanent position on Monday.
Smyth has been the county's chief of staff for nine months. During that time, she has helped the county clerk with a software update and the medical examiner's reorganization, plus given IT some direction since that department is without a director, among other duties. Escobar wanted an administrator who can oversee county departments and find ways to make government more efficient so that the commissioners court could envision what a county administrator would do.
Smyth's annual salary of $140,000 was divided, with the county paying 80 percent and the city paying 20 percent. Smyth moved her office to the county courthouse.
"Physically I've been here 100 percent of the time. I have the county and city email at the same time that I can toggle back and forth so I can keep up with city council meetings or legal issues that might be going on with the department," she told ABC-7.
Smyth's contract with the county ends at the end of this month, then she'll go back to leading environmental services at the city. Her city department, which has about 500 employees, was led by her deputy director and another administrator while Smyth was at the county. She said it's clear that department needs three administrators.
Escobar said she plans to fill the chief of staff position permanently and is looking for someone who can help the county look for ways to improve efficiencies, save money, create better synergy, has good governance ideas and can help with policy developments.