A decision to hire or not hire a permanent front desk person was sent to the Budget and Administration Committee for further study after a lengthy discussion by the Cameron Park Community Services District board on Wednesday night, Feb. 20.
Currently the district is using temporary help to cover the front desk. General Manager Mary Cahill asked the board for permission to fill the job on a permanent basis at a salary of $27,310 a year plus another $16,390 in benefits to provide more continuity of service. Cahill said temp workers they have hired only stay from two to seven months and when the cost of interviewing and training is factored in, the cost of having a permanent employee is almost the same as employing a temp.
However, not all board members or members of the public were convinced. Board member Vicky Neibauer said the district still doesn’t know the total amount of property taxes they will be receiving and new rentals at the community center are not increasing. “I’m not seeing that we’re in a financial position to have this long-term liability,” she said.
Board President Greg Stanton disagreed, saying the district had already received its first property tax payment so the board had a pretty good idea of what the total would be. Board members Scott McNeil and Sean Tucker, as well as ex-board member Alan Clarke, spoke in favor of Cahill’s proposal, with McNeil saying that Cahill was motivated by a desire to see the community center succeed.
However, residents Gerald Lillpop, Barbara Rogers, David Gilber and Bill Carey spoke against the new hire. Lillpop said the district already has unfunded liabilities to retirees and the board should hold off on hiring a permanent employee for now. Rogers agreed saying that it would be fiscally irresponsible for the board to add to the district’s liabilities when the community center remains underused. Gilber said that in the current economy, no one should be hired full-time unless they came with very specific skills. Carey added that there was something wrong when there was so much turnover among the temp workers.
The board also congratulated Battalion Chief Dave Teter who reported he had successfully applied for a grant from FEMA. The $153,700 grant funds will go towards buying new equipment.
The board approved proposed improvements to Rasmussen Park by Ponderosa Little League including building a permanent T-Ball field with back stop and dugouts and moving the batting cage to a different location.
Board member Shiva Frentzen brought back the idea of reestablishing a Revenue Enhancement Advisory Group (REAG). The group was re-created in 2009 as a liaison group between the district and the Red Hawk Casino. Frentzen said the group had previously come up with a list of ideas to generate more revenue but had no way of carrying them out. She also recommended having a goal of making the community center revenue neutral by the end of the 2013-14 fiscal year.
However, Cahill said the district was already working with the El Dorado Chamber of Commerce to improve the visibility of the community center. She also thought Frentzen’s ideas were too ambitious for the number of staff the district has available to carry them out.
What followed was a philosophical debate among the board members over whether the community center should be revenue neutral or if a portion of property taxes should be used to keep it operational. During the discussion, Neibauer reminded the board that residents had originally been told the community center would be self-sustaining. She recommended that the budget deficit be addressed first before working to make the community center revenue neutral.
Lacking the votes to approve Frentzen’s motion, the board voted instead to send the idea of a REAG group to the Budget and Administration committee for further consideration.
Also back again was Ed Anhorn of Sierra Smokehouse BBQ. He said he was still interested in holding a barbecue competition in Cameron Park but was put off when told by district staff that he would have to put together a proposal. Instead he thought the district should bring a proposal to him. He said if he didn’t hear from the district by the end of February, he would have to take the event elsewhere.
Frentzen urged staff to move forward on the barbecue event. “Let’s make it happen. What is so hard about this?” she asked.
Cahill responded by describing the team meeting approach the staff takes when someone proposes an event. “Ed has been welcomed,” she said, “and I asked him to meet with us.”
Neibauer said the district was well past that point since most of the specifics of the event were already known and all that was needed was to hash out the remaining details.
“Let’s not lose this deal,” said Frentzen, saying the district should act more like a business and go after events like the barbecue. “I just want the deal done. Make it happen,” she told Cahill.
Neibauer also brought up the subject of inappropriate behavior by board members. She noted that the board has addressed the subject of appropriate behavior on the part of the public and she advised the board to be bound by the same standards. She then went on to read from policies governing ethics, meeting conduct, and general behavior at meetings.
Frentzen then requested a special closed session meeting to discuss a personnel matter concerning the general manager.
Three Eagle Scouts were also recognized for their work in helping to create a dog park at Hacienda Park. The troop members were Kevin Becker, Austin Mangelson, and Jeremy Cummins. The three received recognition from both the board as well as Holly Morrison who is president of the El Dorado Dog Owners Guild. The guild is the driving force behind the dog park project. The three youths have donated over 600 hours towards making the dog park a reality.
The board also voted to nominate Frentzen as the special district representative to LAFCO. The election for the seat will be held in March.
Contact Dawn Hodson at 530-344-5071 or [email protected] Follow @DHodsonMtDemo on Twitter.