Jim Erb named SLO County's new auditor-controller

With effusive praise for him and his predecessor, the San Luis Obispo Board of Supervisors on Tuesday named Jim Erb to succeed county Auditor-Controller Gere Sibbach, effective Dec. 29.

Sibbach, who had the longest tenure at the job in county history — 22 years — announced his retirement last month and said he would work through the end of the year.

He suggested that Erb, his chief deputy, succeed him and supervisors eagerly took his advice.

“Jim will be a tremendous asset to the county, as he has been in the past,” said Supervisor Frank Mecham, leading a chorus of praise from supervisors.

Erb “brings a lot of passion, good will, and respect,” added Adam Hill.

The board — and Erb — also praised Sibbach.

“He’s not a 'yes' man,” said Supervisor Jim Patterson. “He puts it out there,” and when he thinks a policy is a bad one he tells the board.

The board called Sibbach a key player in keeping county government on an even financial keel during the recession.

The county has a balanced budget and what Sibbach described as "a significant cash reserve."

Erb, who lives in Atascadero, turns 60 later this month. He has been at Sibbach's side during the county's efforts to negotiate the recession.

Auditor-controller is an elected position, and Sibbach’s term ends in January 2015.

Supervisors also praised the administration with creating a management environment where successful “succession planning” can take place — hiring good people from within.

In recent months, County Administrative Officer Jim Grant and County Counsel Warren Jensen have announced their retirements.

Rather than conduct a time-consuming and costly outside search, the county has filled the positions from within, with Deputy County Counsel Rita Neal taking over for Jensen and Deputy County Administrator Dan Buckshi replacing Grant.