Ed Ehmann, Elbert County's public works director, will have to get some new business cards.
On Feb. 26 at their regular meeting, the Board of County Commissioners chose Ehmann to be the county's new manager.
But the decision to promote Ehmann was not unanimous.
Saying that he “was conflicted” and “very much respected” Ehmann, Commissioner Larry Ross voted against the appointment, explaining, “I think the resources would be better spent getting our financial house in order.”
Commissioners Kurt Schlegel and Robert Rowland voted in favor of promoting Ehmann, who also will continue to oversee the county's public works department, at least for the next six months.
“We're going to consolidate some things and streamline operations,” Ehmann said. “This fall, we'll re-evaluate where we're at and possibly make some bigger changes then.”
Ehmann, 46, has worked for the county for seven years. Since the departure of former finance director Stan Wilmer in November 2013, he has “effectively been functioning as the county manager,” Rowland said at the Feb. 26 meeting. “We could not have gotten through the 2014 budget process without Ed taking the lead.”
Ehmann, a fourth-generation Coloradan who grew up in Sedalia, will be paid an annual base salary of $109,000 in his new position.
“I appreciate the opportunity and the confidence you have in me in performing the job,” Ehmann told the commissioners. “We have a great team in Elbert County. Our staff is what is going to make this work.”
As director of public works, Ehmann managed the county's road and bridge department and Schlegel complimented him on getting that department's operations — and finances — in order.
“You've made some extreme improvements in road and bridge and over the last eight or nine months, have really functioned as county manager,” Schlegel said. “You've gone through one of the toughest job interviews I could ever imagine.”
Schlegel called Ehmann's promotion “long overdue,” adding, “I don't think the job could have gone to a better person.”
Although he voted against the appointment — and did not support the board's move earlier this year to create the county manager job — Ross said Ehmann was well-respected by county staff and his appointment “will certainly boost morale.”
“Based on the complexion of this board of county commissioners, I don't doubt that it would be helpful to have a county manager,” Ross said at the meeting.
In his new position, Ehmann will oversee day-to-day operation of the county's various departments.
“We just don't have the money to go out and hire a bunch of new department heads,” Rowland said. “Given our lack of financial resources, this is a wise investment in the future.”
Rowland did acknowledge the new position will raise Ehmann's profile in the county.
“It takes courage to move into this role,” he said. “It's highly visible and subject to the election cycles here in Elbert County.”
Schlegel emphasized that the BOCC will still retain ultimate decision-making authority.
“As elected officials, we will set the direction of the county,” Schlegel said. “Ed and the staff will take care of the tactics to get it done.”