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Wednesday, January 23 , 2019, 1:05 pm | Fair 61º


Geis Announces Plans to Retire as Santa Barbara County Auditor-Controller

Bob Geis plans to retire as Santa Barbara county auditor-controller.
Bob Geis plans to retire as Santa Barbara county auditor-controller.

Santa Barbara County Auditor-Controller Bob Geis has advised the Board of Supervisors he plans to retire March 27, and is recommending the appointment of his second in command, Theo Fallati, to serve the remaining three years of his term.

His memo memo to the board, dated Jan. 30, is not a resignation letter — which officially must be sent to County Executive Officer Mona Miyasato ​— and he can revoke his plans anytime, Geis told Noozhawk on Wednesday.

Geis said he considers it a proposal to retire, and believes now is a good time to set off a leadership transition in his office, where he has served as auditor-controller since 1991. He started working for the county in 1979.

He was last elected by county voters in June 2014, and his term ends Jan. 7, 2019.

Geis wants Fallati to serve out the rest of the term because of his experience, with nine years as assistant auditor-controller and another 15 years with the office.

The final decision will go to the Board of Supervisors, which is getting advice on its options from County Counsel Mike Ghizzoni, Geis said.

Rules state that no special election can be held if this county-elected position vacates or resigns the position, according to Miyasato.

The board will have to appoint someone to finish Geis’ term, in the same way it did in 2010 when the late District Attorney Christie Stanley retired due to health reasons.

“I know that the board will be intensely discussing this in the near future now that he’s announced,” Miyasato said.

​Geis informed the CEO’s office and the board a few days before the public release was issued, she said.

“I think he just wanted to give everyone notice that he’s thinking about it, and thinking about that date,” she said. “I’m disappointed by this because I like working with Bob.  He really is very well-regarded throughout the state.”

She wasn’t sure if the replacement discussions would happen in closed session or be open to the public.

According to Government Code, the Board of Supervisors fills vacancies by appointment for elected county positions such as the Auditor-Controller, District Attorney, Sheriff-Coroner and Treasurer-Tax Collector.

“The appointee shall hold office for the un-expired term or until the first Monday after January 1st succeeding the next general election,” according to Government Code §25304. 

At 62, Geis is ready to leave his job and wants a plan that supports members of his staff.

“The real reason is, it’s the right time to transition my office,” he said.

Waiting another year and leaving the appointee with a short term “puts too much chaos into the office,” he said.

Geis calls the job “complex but fun” and said he is not looking to negotiate anything by announcing his plan to retire before resigning.

“I hadn’t made (this) decision when I ran the last time. It gets to be, you know, a lot of things changed in the two years since I decided to run again. I got two years older.”

Geis says he has many managers ready to move up the line, and five or six people could step in and do Fallati’s job if he is promoted.

Fallati hasn’t decided if he would run for the auditor-controller position in the next election, Geis said.

However, there are many qualified candidates within the department that Geis would support, he said.

“Our succession plan does not just involve my position, but in the next three to four years some other key staff members will be retiring and we are planning for their replacement,” he said in the memo to board members.

Geis said he plans to stay in the area after retirement, take six months off, and then continue working, perhaps as a member of a county board or commission.

“Bob Geis has been an outstanding steward of our public funds and will be greatly missed,” Board of Supervisors Chairman Peter Adam said in a statement.

Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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