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County administrator's contract extended 1 more month

by CHAD SOKOL
Daily Inter Lake | April 30, 2021 1:25 PM

Mike Pence will stick around one more month as Flathead County's chief executive while his successor prepares for a cross-country move and settles into the job.

Pence, who has spent 16 years as county administrator, first announced he would retire at the end of March, then agreed to a two-month contract extension while the county held a nationwide search for his successor. The county commissioners selected Pete Melnick for the job two weeks ago, but his official start date is June 7, which would leave the position vacant for an entire week.

So on Thursday, the commissioners approved another amendment to Pence's contract, extending it through June and granting him another $1,500 housing allowance for the month.

The administrator is the county's chief executive, responsible for overseeing a budget of nearly $100 million and serving as a liaison between the commissioners and various departments led by elected and appointed officials. Those include departments responsible for maintaining roads and bridges, providing public health services and operating the county landfill, the jail, the animal shelter and fairgrounds.

Melnick, who has spent 26 years in the Coast Guard and the Department of Homeland Security, is preparing to leave the federal government and move with his family from their current home in Maryland.

In an email Friday, Commissioner Randy Brodehl said Pence's contract was extended to ensure a smooth leadership transition.

"Mike was gracious enough to delay his move plan so we had a period for the two of them to transition," Brodehl said.

Melnick, 46, was one of four finalists selected from a pool of 67 applicants for the job. After a round of in-person interviews in late March, the three Republican commissioners selected him over Elishia Hayes, Daniel Sabolsky and Pat Oman, all of whom have extensive local government experience. The commissioners highlighted Melnick's management and human resources experience. His salary for the first year will be $128,000.

Reporter Chad Sokol can be reached at 758-4439 or csokol@dailyinterlake.com