Assistant County Manager Joanne Spina is likely to succeed Joe Kerby as county manager.
Spina had already been selected to serve as interim county manager, but last week, La Plata County commissioners unanimously voted to start negotiating a contract with Spina to fill the top job permanently.
"This is a tremendous privilege to me to be able to serve our community," Spina said. "I feel very honored and humbled by the board's trust."
Kerby will leave his county post Friday and move to Corvallis, Oregon, to be the Benton County administrator. He was La Plata County manager for five years.
Kerby's annual salary was $167,627, and as assistant county manager, Spina's salary was $129,641.
Spina will start as the interim county manager on Saturday.
"We are so pleased to have such a strong, dedicated and effective internal candidate to step into the administrative leadership role," Commissioner Julie Westendorff said in a news release.
Addressing the county's short-term financial challenges in 2018 and 2019 will be among her top priorities, Spina said.
"Specifically, it's living within our means ... Knowing that those funds are limited and working with the board and the community to determine how best to use those resources," she said.
She also plans to work on longer-term financial sustainability, which she expects will include conversations with the community about what is important to residents, she said.
Spina has worked for La Plata County for 28 years. She started at the La Plata County Sheriff's Office as an administrator in 1989.
In 1993, she started as the administrative assistant to the county manager and gradually took on more responsibility, eventually becoming assistant to the county manager. She became assistant county manager in 2006, and oversees the county's fleet, facilities, information technology departments and Human Services, one of the county's largest departments.
"I have been with La Plata County a long time because I believe in the work and I believe in what we do," she said.
As assistant county manager, Spina oversaw some major projects, such as the needs assessment and design work for the La Plata County jail addition.
She also led the formation of the La Plata County Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee and served as its chairwoman from 1989 to 2006. The committee developed the pretrial release program, day reporting program, community methamphetamine awareness and other initiatives.
To help bring Denver television to La Plata County, she coordinated the first market modification request by a county to the Federal Communications Commission. The county's request was granted in March, but it is up to the television stations to negotiate with satellite companies, she said.
Spina has an associate's degree in business science from Castle Junior College, in Windham, New Hampshire. She completed the University of Colorado at Denver's Rocky Mountain program for senior executives in state and local government.
She also holds a certificate in public policy and administration from the University of Colorado at Denver, and a certificate in mediation from University of Texas School of Law.