Jean Rousseau, Tulare County’s Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) for eight years, has resigned to accept an offer from Fresno County. Fresno County officials announced October 1 that Rousseau had accepted a job to become their CAO. Rousseau will be replacing Fresno County’s current CAO, John Navarrette, who has been on the job for 31 years. Rousseau’s last day of work for Tulare County will be October 23, and he will officially start his new job October 26. Rousseau spent a year being Fresno County’s finance officer, in 2007, before moving to Tulare County.
According to the Visalia Times-Delta, “In Oct. 2012, the supervisors voted to raise Rousseau’s annual salary 10.6% to $180,000 a year, noting one of the primary reasons was to keep him from being recruited by higher-paying counties or cities. An additional 2% raise that took effect July 12 increased his salary to $189,107.”
Although Rousseau’s salary as Fresno County CAO was not disclosed as of press time, Navarette, had a base pay of $217,623 per year.
During the closed-session portion of the October 6 Tulare County Board of Supervisors meeting, Mike Spata was appointed to serve as interim CAO while the county conducts a search for Rousseau’s permanent replacement.
Spata said he is seriously considering putting his name in for the job. He is currently the county’s Resource Management Agency’s director, and has served in the past as Tulare County’s assistant CAO.
During the regular session of the October 6 meeting, Supervisor Allen Ishida reminisced when he and former Tulare County Supervisor Connie Conway had first hired Rousseau. He attributed Rousseau with being the main reason that Tulare County is in one of the best financial positions of any county in the state.
Supervisor Steve Worthley pointed out that Fresno County will be twice the size of Tulare County’s government, but also will be double the headache. Worthley wished him well and sent a message to Fresno County, saying that Rousseau “did not create their problems, but is just inheriting them.”
Kathleen Bales-Lang, county council, did jokingly ask Rousseau to stay until she retired. She said, the CAO and the county council need to work closely together for the health of the county and that is what they have done.
“We made a good team,” she said.
Bales-Lang pointed out that Tulare County established the county council in 1946, and there have been five county councils, including her. Conversely, the county established the position of CAO in 1981, and Rousseau is the 10th one to hold the post. Worthely added that Rousseau’s tenure has been the longest of anyone else who has worked for the county.