County commissioners are “leasing” a third temporary planning director to serve in a leadership role that’s been vacant since Oct. 1.

That’s when Tyler Sinclair, formerly the joint town and county planning director, departed to focus solely on planning for the town of Jackson.

The county hired Steve Westbay as an interim planning replacement from Jan. 10 to April 12 and extended his contract to May 10. Commissioners then hired Jo Ellen Charlton to serve as an interim planning director from May 15 to July 12.

Now Keith Sbiral will step in for a two-month stint. He started July 29 and has a contract through Sept. 27, with a possible extension through Nov. 29. Sbiral previously served as city manager for Brookfield, Illinois, and Downers Grove, Illinois.

“The main reason is we need staff support,” county commission Chairwoman Natalia Macker said. “It’s obviously not the same as a permanent solution, but it is direction and oversight within the department, and to be able to assist with the workload.

“It’s not perfect, but it was never going to be,” she said.

The interim planning directors are hired through GovTemps, a national recruiting and interim staffing firm.

The rate paid for the temporary planning directors runs $84 per hour and $126 per hour for overtime, as well as travel expenses.

So far, from Jan. 17 through July 23, Teton County has paid $88,672.50 on its contracts for interim planning directors, according to the county clerk’s office.

County Human Resources Director Julianne Fries said she is in the final round of interviews for the planning director post, which is advertised as offering a salary ranging from $107,246 to $124,372.

There are now three vacancies in the Teton County Planning and Building Department: planning director, long-range principal planner and plans examiner. Fries said she recently hired a new long-range associate planner, a newly funded additional position, as well as a senior planner.

Fries said she is also in a final round of interviews for the long-range principal planner, which has been advertised since December. The starting salary range for that job is $76,218 to $80,076, she said.

Fries said filling the planning director role has been difficult because of a nationwide shortage of planning candidates, the complexity of the position unique to Teton County and “our interest in finding the ‘right’ candidate for this position, as opposed to settling for ‘a’ candidate.”

In the meantime, limited staff continues to strain the planning department.

After more than a year and a half of work and countless hours of public and stakeholder group meetings to overhaul the county’s natural resource regulations, county commissioners officially delayed work in March because of a lack of staff to complete it. It’s also pushed pause on planned rezoning for areas like The Aspens.

However, planners have completed new regulations for small cell wireless and are working on a joint review of the comp plan with the town and new regulations for the maximum scale of development.

Contact Allie Gross at 732-7063 or

Allie Gross covers Teton County government. Originally from the Chicago area, she joined the News&Guide in 2017 after studying politics and Spanish at Vanderbilt University in Nashville.

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