Seeking to change the management structure of his office and save money, County Executive Officer Johnny Johnston recently accepted the resignations of two top officials.
Chief Financial Officer Angela Sheffield abruptly quit earlier this month after Johnston reassigned some of her duties to other administrators. Sheffield had been on the job less than six months.
Veteran legislative analyst Larry Siegel left June 30 after Johnston eliminated his position from the budget.
Johnston said he is reorganizing his office in a more "collegial" and efficient management style that he believes will also mean savings.
"I realigned the operation to reflect how I lead and organize," said Johnston, who replaced Harry Hufford as chief administrator in April. "Unfortunately, when a new administration comes in and makes changes, it does impact the staff."
Hufford urged the Board of Supervisors last year to create a chief financial officer position to assist the county executive in keeping a tight rein on the county's $1.1-billion budget.
Sheffield was hired at a $112,000 annual salary in February, just before Hufford stepped down. Johnston said Sheffield believed she was hired to be the No. 2 manager in his office, filling in as chief executive in his absence.
But, Johnston said, he preferred a team approach to management in which his top deputies would all have roughly equal status and duties.
"I narrowed some of her assignments and redistributed her work, and that was different than what she thought she was hired for," Johnston said. "We talked it over, and, by mutual agreement, she decided to go."
Siegel had been with the county since 1987, keeping track of pending state and federal legislation that could affect county operations. Johnston said he cut Siegel's position, which pays between $65,000 and $93,000 a year, to save money.
Johnston's remaining five deputies will share responsibility for keeping tabs on pending legislation, he said. He will not replace Sheffield for now, Johnston said.
"My first approach is to see if we can save money and improve productivity, which is exactly what I have asked every other department to do," he said.
Sheffield and Siegel could not be reached for comment.
Supervisor Frank Schillo said he is angry that Johnston did not inform the Board of Supervisors that Sheffield was gone.
"He's got five bosses, and he never told us," the Thousand Oaks supervisor said. "I think the county needs that position. It is the only defensible position the CEO has when making recommendations to the board. Otherwise, he has to rely on numbers from someone else's department."
Supervisor Steve Bennett said he was reserving judgment.
"Johnny Johnston's most important responsibility is the budget and budget analysis for the board," Bennett said. "And certainly whatever he feels like he needs to do to perform that function I am going to support."