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Request to keep current County CAO on Tuesday supervisors' agenda

The San Diego County Administration Building taken on Dec. 12, 2022. Inset: An undated photo of Helen Robbins-Meyer
Alexander Nguyen / KPBS
County of San Diego
The San Diego County Administration Building taken on Dec. 12, 2022. Inset: An undated photo of Helen Robbins-Meyer

The county Board of Supervisors during its regular meeting Tuesday will "take action" to retain Helen Robbins-Meyer as chief administrative officer for a limited time, according to information from the Communications Office Thursday.

Board Chairwoman Nora Vargas made the formal request in an official letter, which stated that Robbins-Meyer would serve as interim CAO "for a limited duration and certify that her appointment is necessary to fill a critically needed position before 180 days have passed since her retirement date."

According to the letter, Robbins-Meyer "retired from county service on March 30, 2023 and retired with the San Diego County Employees' Retirement Association (SDCERA) on March 31, 2023."


"The CAO position is now vacant and it will be several months before the recruitment and onboarding of a new CAO is completed," according to the board letter. "The CAO is a critically needed position and Helen Robbins-Meyer has agreed to return as a retiree-rehire and serve as the interim CAO."

The letter didn't specify if supervisors would need to vote on the proposal, which comes at a time of turmoil for the board, following the planned resignation of District 4 Supervisor Nathan Fletcher.

On late Wednesday, Fletcher announced that he would leave his post in May, after admitting to an affair with a woman who then sued him, alleging he sexually assaulted and harassed her.

Fletcher announced on Sunday he was entering a treatment center for post-traumatic stress, trauma and alcohol abuse and forgoing a run for state Senate. He said his decision to resign was "solely based on what is best for my family."

Since early March, supervisors have held several closed sessions on the CAO position. Serving 25 years in San Diego county government, Robbins- Meyer announced her retirement in October after being in the post since 2012. She left the departure date open to allow county officials time to search for a successor.


The CAO is responsible for carrying out the board's policy directives and managing the day-to-day governmental operations and functions, including the annual budget.

According to the board letter, California Government Code states that any retired person receiving a pension from a public retirement system "shall not be employed by an employer in the same retirement system for a period of 180 days following the date of retirement."

An exception to the rule is when the governing board "certifies the nature of employment and that the appointment of the retired person is necessary to fill a critically needed position before the end of the 180-day waiting period," according to the letter.

The board letter is agenda item No. 28 for Tuesday's meeting, which will start at 9 a.m. at the county Administration Center, 1600 Pacific Highway.