The Idyllwild Water District directors continued their pursuit of a senior water manager last week. However, the board is neither unified nor clear on its path. For example, both President Dr. Charles “Chip” Schelly and Vice President Peter Szabadi confirmed that the board is not yet sure whether a replacement general manager for Jack Hoagland, a chief operating officer or both is its goal.

In response to the question of whether the board planned to hire a general manager or COO or both, Schelly replied, “I can’t get the board to agree.”

“We may have an alternative to a GM or we may have both,” Szabadi added.

The position description and salary range of a COO was approved during the meeting, although the board had already issued recruitment notices and interviewed some candidates for general manager. Further confirming the uncertainty of the board’s hiring plans, the COO position could be either hourly, part-time or salary full-time, Szabadi affirmed.

In the board’s view, the COO is a person not yet prepared to assume all responsibilities of a general manager. The person would have extensive experience managing field work, such as laying pipeline, repairing leaks and wastewater treatment. However, the individual is likely to have limited experience dealing with county or state water officials or even the public, and the administrative knowledge of permits or budgets.

In November, the general manager recruitment committee, composed of directors David Hunt and Steven Kunkle, who both were absent for the December meeting, proposed and recommended the option of hiring a COO since they were dissatisfied with the quality of the original general manager applicants. In their opinion, after eight or 10 months or perhaps a year, a COO would learn the administrative aspects and be prepared to become general manager. During the interim, Chief Financial Officer Hosny Shouman could serve as acting general manager.

At the meeting, the three members present did approve the job description and salary range for a COO.

Schelly appointed the recruitment committee in August to begin exploration for a new general manager since Hoagland’s contract expired Dec. 31. By September, views were shifting about the district’s need for a general manager, or someone able to plan and manage field work better than it was perceived Hoagland and his predecessor Tom Lynch had done.

The recruitment process is taking substantial board time. In the first three weeks of December, IWD has held three special meetings to review resumes and interview applicants. Schelly was unsure why the recruitment committee could not conduct the initial interviews and winnow the potential candidates for the full board’s review and decision.

Hoagland did not attend the Dec. 19 meeting.