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County CEO may postpone retirement

Merced County CEO Dee Tatum might rescind his decision to retire at the end of this year, he said during this week’s Board of Supervisors meeting.

Tatum, 61, announced plans last year to retire this December. On Tuesday, however, Tatum said he might be willing to delay his retirement.

Tatum gave one-year notice of his plans to retire, providing the Board of Supervisors plenty of time to find a successor.

But the board decided to delay its search until after the county’s June 3 election, when three of the five supervisor seats were on the ballot. Supervisors said they worried they wouldn’t attract strong CEO candidates with so much instability on the board.

So the board was set to take up the issue during Tuesday’s supervisors meeting. It was supposed to discuss hiring a search firm to recruit CEO candidates.

Instead, three supervisors said they’d prefer to ask Tatum to delay his retirement.

Citing the slowing economy and tough financial times ahead, supervisors Deidre Kelsey, Mike Nelson and John Pedrozo said they thought it was a bad time for Tatum to leave.

Tatum said during the meeting that he’d been approached by both board members and community members who have asked him to stay.

“Several people have told me it’s just not the right time to go,” Tatum said.

He said he’d consider staying, but that he hadn’t discussed the matter with his family.

The board decided to table the issue until its next meeting in July to allow Tatum time to decide whether he’ll stay on.

Board chairwoman Kathleen Crookham said Tuesday’s discussion was the first time she’d heard anything about the possibility of Tatum delaying his retirement.

“I was quite surprised,” she said. “If he wants to rescind his decision, I don’t think anyone would stand in his way. We’d be happy to keep him longer, but I think that needs to be his decision, not ours. ... It’s a very personal decision.”

Tatum has worked for the county for 11 years and has served as its chief administrator since 2001.