County manager to stay through January

Curry County Manager Dick Smith is citing unspecified personal reasons for his recent decision to step down.

Smith, a former hospital administrator, said he is going back to the private sector where “I’m not stalked by the paparazzi,” a reference to scrutiny he’s received as a public official.

Smith submitted his letter of resignation to the County Commission last week. He said it will take effect Jan. 30.

“Our original agreement was for six months, but it’s been a very productive three years,” Smith said. “I think we’ve taken tremendous strides with the county detention center, special events center, land use policies and procedures and personnel policies and procedures.”

The county has been involved in controversial issues in recent months, including a proposal to sell alcohol at the fairgrounds and the Curry County Mounted Patrol’s use of the rodeo arena.

But Smith said his resignation is not related to those issues and there is no conflict with county commissioners.

The County Commission will meet in an executive session today to discuss Smith’s resignation.

County Commission Chairman Albin Smith said the county renewed its contract with Dick Smith in July.

Dick Smith is paid an annual salary of $102,000, according to his contract.

The chairman said commissioners might try to convince Dick Smith to stay longer when they meet today, but the timing for change is not a surprise.

“When he came on board with us three years ago, I knew then he was planning on only going to work for four years, maybe five anyway,” Albin Smith said Monday.

Commissioner Pete Hulder said he spoke Thursday with Dick Smith after hearing rumors he was resigning.

“He just said he had enough and was ready to change directions, so to speak,” Hulder said. “And I told him I would appreciate it if he would reconsider changing his mind because he has made my job as a commissioner a lot easier. … I knew when he brought anything to the Commission he had checked it out. When he made a recommendation there was no doubt in my mind that he had done his homework on it.”

Dick Smith said he is confident his staff can continue working on county projects he started.

“I think we’ve assembled a great team up here and I’ve enjoyed leading them,” he said.

Dick Smith said he will continue helping the county through the 2008 legislative session and will assist with finding his replacement.
“Whatever the Commission asks me to do, I’ll be more than happy to help,” he said.

Curry County Commission special meeting
9 a.m. today
Commissioners Room, Curry County Courthouse