Wednesday, April 23, 2014
PLACERVILLE, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

OT pay for resource chief in limbo

By
From page A1 | May 08, 2013 | 9 Comments

A request for supplemental pay for the district manager of the El Dorado Resource Conservation District (EDRCD) is being questioned by El Dorado County Auditor-Controller Joe Harn.

Previously the EDRCD submitted a claim to the county to pay District Manager Mark Egbert for time he had accrued over the past 10 years, primarily for attending board meetings.

In an April 22 letter addressed to Chuck Mitchell, president of the EDRCD, Harn asked county counsel to review “any options and obligations regarding your request for my office to process a $31,597 supplemental payroll payment to the RDC’s district manager.”

The letter continued, “Your board’s action related to this matter is just about the most absurd give-away of the taxpayers’ money I have seen during my 33-year career in governmental accounting and auditing. The basic premise of your board’s action is that your district manager did not know he was an ‘exempt’ employee as defined by the Fair Labor Standards Act.”

However, in an e-mail dated May 6, Egbert said, “The county auditor-controller advised the district that his office could process payment of the accrued compensation in its entirety as wages, even though the RCD boards never authorized this until after receiving this recommendation. It is of great concern that the information provided by the diversity of entities on this matter be reliable and those entities that provided the information to the board be accountable.”

Egbert said the request was a result of his board of director’s efforts to evaluate the validity of accrued compensation time for all district positions. He said the supplemental pay request was recommended by a third-party law firm, an independent auditor and an independent human resources firm.

Claiming his position is not exempt, even though he is designated the district manager, Egbert said the district will rely on the county’s definition of who is an exempt employee.

However, Harn disagrees. “He’s always been the district manager and if you’re a manager you don’t get paid for overtime,” Harn said. “He’s the district manager for 10 years and he didn’t know managers don’t get overtime?”

Harn also questioned how much it cost to hire outside people to render that judgment. “I can get a lawyer to say I’m beautiful and have a beautiful full head of hair. You can hire a lawyer to say anything you want,” he said. “It’s absurd for a district to pay a manager for working extra hours. I don’t believe the payment is correct and I won’t make the payment until it’s my lawful duty to make that payment.”

He said that the county needed extra justification to support why Egbert should receive overtime pay.

Egbert maintains he does not want the additional compensation. He claims the entire issue arose because of advice the district received from its auditor.

“I do not have a claim against the district for the supplemental payment and would never do so,” he said. “The integrity, accountability and transparency of the district is of utmost importance.”

Egbert said he hopes county counsel renders a judgment on the issue this week.

Contact Dawn Hodson at 530-344-5071 or dhodson@mtdemocrat.net. Follow @DHodsonMtDemo on Twitter.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 9 comments

  • 1036-FrankMay 07, 2013 - 12:13 pm

    When does a manager not know they are a manager and when does an exempt employee not know they are exempt? I have to wonder if this is even a valid circumstance, it doesn't sound rational, around here there are already too many local politicians and public employees who pretend they don't know what the job is or what the laws are and play dumb once too often. This theme is too often encountered lately.

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  • Ernie LouisMay 07, 2013 - 12:26 pm

    Like Mom and Dad said Joe. “ People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones” Ernie Louis

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  • SandyMay 08, 2013 - 11:11 am

    1036 Frank You got it. It seems quite a few local politicians, high rank officials, board members and "very important" city workers play dumb or try to cover up or say...they didn't know. They knew when they ran for office. They knew then and they ALL know now. Guess what else... Their still in their seat of power.

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  • jim RiordanMay 08, 2013 - 11:38 am

    Congratulations Mr. Egbert for turning down such an outrageous position by your, in my opinion, ignorant and arrogant boss Mr. Chuck Mitchell. This smells to me like an attempt by Mr. Mitchell to "open a door" for more BS claims like this. This from the "head" of the "El Dorado Resource Conservation District (EDRCD"??? Sure does not sound like a "conservation" effort to me. Every "manager" should know that the very term makes them exempt. Joe, shut down this attempt to open a big door to more, in my opinion, taxpayer robbery by County employees. I agree with 1036 Frank on this one.

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  • Rich MilnerMay 08, 2013 - 1:13 pm

    Whether overtime pay is justified or not, one thing is quite clear, Mr. Egbert is grossly under paid for his position, and he hasn't had a raise in 4 years. Actually, I might even argue that this one-time $31,597 on top of his annual pay is considerable less than many county managers and employees receive in annual pay...definitely not out of fair pay range for a district manager-chief policy consultant-chief fiscal officer and his own secretary -- who is also simultaneously beholden to two separate and independent boards of directors. His overtime helps the district manage many projects that bring outside funds to the district…leveraging five outside dollars for every one dollar of local taxes. Mr. Harn wouldn’t work for half Mr. Egbert’s salary and put in the equal amount of overtime.

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  • Rich MilnerMay 08, 2013 - 11:48 pm

    According to records of the California State Controller’s Office, in 2011, Auditor Controller Joe Harn received $155,676 in regular pay, $864 in lump sum pay, $43,566 in other pay, for a total of $200,106 in total wages. In addition to salary, he received $26,798 in a defined benefit plan, $4,745 in deferred compensation and $16,093 in health/dental/vision coverage. A total cost to El Dorado County taxpayers in 2011: $247,742. That is $100,000 more than the entire county funding for the TWO districts Egbert manages. His salary was $70,000 more than the California State Inspector General or the California State Controller, and $35,000 more than the Governor’s salary. Harn’s salary is 2.5 times Mr. Egbert’s salary which he calls “the most absurd give-away of the taxpayers’ money I have seen during my 33-year career in governmental accounting and auditing.” Is Harn also complaining about the 349 El Dorado county employees making more than Mr. Egbert, or the 122 county employees whose six figures salaries are more than Mr. Egbert’s yearly salary plus his one-time overtime pay earned over a ten year period? Joe Harn is an elected politician who seems to have a political agenda here.

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  • RaulMay 09, 2013 - 9:20 am

    Rich, Thank you for bringing Joe Harns best kept secret to light. He likes to sell himself as the protector of the taxpayer when in reality he feeds of the bottom of the pond like any other 19 year career elected official. Why has he refused repeated request for information on his retirement package and what it is going to cost the county when he is finally run out of his royal position? What is the $43566 "other pay" We demand to know. Its time for Joe to go. What was the grand jury looking into Joe?

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  • Dale PierceMay 09, 2013 - 6:07 pm

    The Directors of the RCD's are all unpaid volunteers interested in natural resources-not experts on the Fair Labor Standards Act-who received legal advice from the El Dorado County Counsel and from the Auditor-Controller before deciding how to meet our obligations to our employees. The Auditor states he plans to ask County Counsel to review his options and obligations. Why would the Auditor choose to make a public attack in the Mt. Democrat first, and check the law second?

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  • Dale PierceMay 10, 2013 - 8:52 am

    For an example of how a professional audit can combine fiscal oversight with improving management look up the “2007-2009 State Audit of the Sierra Coordinated Resource Management Council” (it’s good background on Supervisor Nutting's difficulties and who makes those decisions) http://www.dof.ca.gov/osae/prior_bond_audits/documents/BondsGCALFIREProp40SCRMCMarch2009.pdf. I thought Mr. Harn was a breath of fresh air when he started as Auditor, but I think the kind of public attacks that are common in politics, with 10 second sound bites and oversimplification of complex issues will ultimately damage the County and drive out people who just want to do their jobs.

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