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Mental Health Board has director candidate in mind

Published: Monday, Nov. 4, 2013 2:05 p.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, Nov. 4, 2013 11:46 p.m. CDT

CRYSTAL LAKE – Negotiations are underway between the McHenry County Mental Health Board and the candidate it wants to fill the top spot.

The board Saturday gave The Meyers Group, its behavioral health search firm, the OK to begin negotiating with the finalist the board believes is the best fit for executive director, acting President Carrie Smith said. Board members interviewed three finalists in closed-door meetings Friday and Saturday.

Board members also reached a tentative agreement for new legal representation, filling a void left when they moved to sever ties with their longtime attorney over his costs and billing.

The agency, which helps the county’s mentally ill and developmentally disabled and funds like-minded social service agencies, has been without a permanent executive director for a year.

Smith says the board remains hopeful that an agreement can be reached and publicly announced to McHenry County at the board’s Nov. 26 meeting or sooner.

“It’s a two-way street, and we won’t know anything for sure until The Meyers Group has finished their negotiations,” Smith said.

If hired, the new director will join a Mental Health Board made up almost entirely of new members trying to find their way as shrinking revenues force cuts long sought by critics who have alleged for years that the agency has become a top-heavy bureaucracy that spends too much on administration and overhead.

Saturday also was the official last day for former interim Director Todd Schroll, who has held the position since the November 2012 departure of former director Sandy Lewis. Duane Lahti, the board’s data and information systems manager, has been handed the reins until the new director is hired.

Board members also agreed Saturday to use the law firm of Zukowski, Rogers, Flood & McArdle for its legal needs. The board earlier this year put out a bid request for legal services over concerns that longtime counsel Francis Gosser was billing too much for unneeded services.

Gosser resigned as board counsel before the board was scheduled to vote to terminate his services.

The board plans to draw up a memorandum of understanding with the new firm as to its fees and for what services it expects, Smith said.

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