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Super duper development agency OK’d

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From page A1 | December 07, 2012 | 16 Comments

By a 4-1 vote, the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors Tuesday approved creation of a new Community Development Agency. Supervisors John Knight, Jack Sweeney, Ron Briggs and Norma Santiago accepted Chief Administrative Officer Terri Daly’s full recommendation for restructuring the three county departments most involved in planning and development issues.

Supervisor Ray Nutting said he favored some but not all of Daly’s proposal and timeline for implementation but eventually voted no to the whole package.

Effective following adoption of the Dec. 5 board resolution, the new structure will combine the  Development Services Department, Environmental Management Department and the Department of Transportation as an “integrated/consolidated Community Development Agency.”

The traditional departments will be reconfigured as divisions of the new agency under a director of community development who will be hired some time in the near future. Assistant Chief Administrative Officer Kim Kerr was appointed “acting” director of community development to steer the restructuring process. Part of the recommendation included immediate recruitment for an assistant director of community development. Daly described that position as the “most expert, technical person to do long-range planning, and step one is to get (that person in place).”

Another new position, assistant director of administration and finance, was created but, like the top job in the agency, the No. 3 will not be filled immediately. The CAO’s six-point recommendation also included several technical requirements for changing the employment status and job specifications of the department heads who now will be “division managers.”

Changing organizational structure and altering department head positions requires a change to the County Code under the El Dorado County Charter. The board therefore also directed staff to revise and update those sections of the charter and “bring the ordinance back for adoption within 30 days.”

Establishing new positions and classifications of employees further requires some modifications to “maintain equity within the county salary schedule.” Thus, Kerr as assistant CAO and Daniel Nielson, director of the county’s Health and Human Services Agency, received salary adjustments of approximately 5 percent, according to the documents. The potential for a negative ripple effect over some salary adjustments drew a stern response from Auditor-Controller Joe Harn both during the meeting and in an e-mail sent later the same day.

“In my time as county auditor I have never seen a consolidation like this. This consolidation will cost $400,000 to $500,000 per year. Maybe there will be cost savings in the future, maybe. The supervisors created three new positions that will be highly compensated. All three will be paid over $100,000 per year. The supervisors and the CAO must be aware of a big pot of money that I am not privy to,” Harn wrote.

He had noted during the meeting and in an earlier letter to the board that the new development agency finance person would be paid more than his own chief deputy auditor-controller and the CAO’s chief budget officer. And, “You’re creating clear inequities regarding pay for other accountants” in the county system. Harn also expressed concern over what he called “grade creep” and “individual salary increases.”

Harn said he believed the new finance officer salary “should be comparable to a principle administrative analyst” position. Bringing an individual into the county system at a higher level represented “grade creep,” he wrote.

“The raises for the assistant CAO and director of HHS were not even on the agenda,” Harn continued.  ”The raises for these two individuals were acted on as part of the creation of the Community Development Department. In my opinion, the intent of the California Open Meeting law was violated. The county should make it easy for the public to know what items go before the Board of Supervisors.”

Acknowledging that both positions require a high level of responsibility, Harn said they should not receive salary increases. And he advised that “Most of our contracts with our labor groups expire at the end of this fiscal year (and) that is a better time to review and adjust salaries… If the county is going to give out raises, I believe we need to do it very carefully. We need to take a look at the whole picture and not just focus on a handful of positions.”

A number of local residents expressed concern and opposition to the proposal as well. Sue Taylor of Camino suggested that the consolidation of departments would lead to results that would not be  consistent with the county’s 2004 General Plan. It would “oppose the vision of a rural county.” Taylor then asked supervisors “Is this just a way to fast-track big development?”

District 1 Supervisor-elect Ron Mikulako asked the board to postpone a decision on the CAO’s recommendation until January. He and District 3 Supervisor-elect Brian Veerkamp take their seats on the board at the first meeting of the new year.

Melody Lane of Coloma advised that the way to “fix a broken system is not (to create) a new bureaucracy.” She also suggested that related “decisions may have been made behind closed doors” and concluded with: “Don’t take action on this till you’ve identified and fixed the problems.”

El Dorado County Employee Association Local 1 Director Jere Copeland urged the board to be careful about making unilateral decisions regarding reorganization and reclassification of employees that may violate “meet and confer” requirements as written in Memoranda of Understanding with various employee bargaining units.

Shingle Springs resident Kathleen Newell echoed Taylor’s concerns over protection of the “rural vision” and noted that she and others rank that issue above “economic development” in the county.

Perhaps the most compelling testimony was presented by Tammy Gonzales, a nine-year employee in the county’s Development Services Department. Gonzales acknowledged that “lots need to be changed, but we’re worried that it’s going to fail just like the other time (in the past). Implementation falls down to the people who aren’t shown on this chart (that is, everyone below the three new management positions).”

“Reduction in force is also a concern,” she said before warning, “There’s going to be repercussions if it fails.”

Planning and Development Services has been one of the departments hardest hit by layoffs over the past several years due to the local economy and lack of building and new development.

Supervisor Ron Briggs later responded indirectly to Gonzales’ concerns, assuring that “our staff hasn’t failed us; we and management have failed.” Representing “District 4 concerns,” Briggs said the county’s decision to combine the former Public Health Department with the Human Services Department under one director represented a “good model for fixing major problems with public health services.” The same should hold true for the new Community Development Agency, he suggested.

“This is a culmination of years for me, and I think we need to try it. If it fails, we’ll try something else,” Briggs concluded.

Contact Chris Daley at 530-344-5063 or cdaley@mtdemocrat.net. Follow @CDaleyMtDemo. 

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 16 comments

  • residentDecember 07, 2012 - 3:22 am

    Kim Kerr to lead this new super duper agency! In September Chris Daley wrote of the Amador County Grand Jury Report: "Kerr is characterized as having 'misled' the [Ione] City Council on issues related to the wastewater consultants, and the council is blamed for not adequately questioning her data, thereby approving work and expenditures that were not properly described nor vetted, according to the report. The jury addresses the issue and concludes that Kerr’s and the City Council’s general plan was “unrealistic” given the city’s 'financial infrastructure' and the treatment plant was therefore unnecessary, according to the report." Of the GJ Report Supervisor said: “I haven’t read that report. I’ve heard about it, and I don’t intend to read it.” Who is calling the shots in this county? Why is Kim Kerr, disgraced refugee from the City of Ione, now a rising star? Why indeed did the decision have to be rushed through prior to the January seating of two new board members? And one more: What is Sweeney's next career move?

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  • Bill E.December 07, 2012 - 6:05 am

    The summary of comments from the public is that status quo is unacceptable, but neither is change. Huh? This type of reorganization should have a net savings in the number of employees even if there is the creation of a couple new positions. In fact, a more significant question is where there is a need for an Asst. CAO role within this new organization. Success or failure all comes down to execution and whether career bureaucrats can implement a proven business organizational model.

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  • James SmithDecember 07, 2012 - 9:44 am

    Here's who your Board of Supes thinks is qualified to lead the agency: http://www.voiceinione.com/Documents/GrandJuryReports/2011-2012/2011-2012GJR-Response.pdf

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  • RichardDecember 07, 2012 - 10:03 am

    Big salaries; Deferred maintenance and with $50 Million in crumbling infrastructure, how can the county afford these big salaries? And Nutting, who does he think he’s fooling, can’t wait for that idiot to run for state senate.

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  • Sue TaylorDecember 07, 2012 - 4:08 pm

    I missed Bill E. at the meeting so I'm not sure what he is talking about. This is nothing more than keeping a foot in the door for the 2 departing Supervisors. There is really not a problem that this action is going to fix except maybe if you are from the favored entourage of the Board, (that pushed our current 2004 General Plan on us in the first place, then realized it wasn’t working for them), this just might be the ticket for you. From Village Life, “The El Dorado County Chief Administrative Office provided information on the permit process, fees and contacts for permits and facilitated the process with county departments and outside agencies. Bloo Solar submitted a building permit application that the county reviewed on a priority basis. The building permit for tenant improvements was issued within five working days. The building permit fees were waived.” By the way, where are the Taxpayers? The funding for this will be coming out of our General Fund. Couldn’t the library use that money?

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  • EldoradoDecember 07, 2012 - 4:48 pm

    How many times will the county do this same consolidation? This is the third and every time it has cost the taxpayers millions of dollars and not worked. And now we are going to have to raise other salaries to keep up with the overpaid positions being created. How about if we start over again with a clean slate. Fire or recall them all....

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  • Phil VeerkampDecember 07, 2012 - 5:03 pm

    Sue Taylor more on bloo solar - LINK - El Dorado Hills solar cell company gets $3M more in financing

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  • Phil VeerkampDecember 07, 2012 - 5:10 pm

    What a shame. I remember when that property was growing stock for the Folsom rodeo. Damn!

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  • Bill E.December 08, 2012 - 8:15 am

    The county's wiz bang technology allowing the viewing of the BoS proceedings without being present is a wonderful thing. There are really no excuses for not knowing what is going on if any citizen is willing to make the commitment. Now, the reorganization is really an application of a business model within a government framework. The top management is focused on process and the technical level is the delivery system. Typically in the business world this type of reorganization should have a net SAVINGS aka REDUCTION in the NUMBER of employees even if there is the creation of a couple new positions. I even challenge the need moving forward for the an Asst. CAO role within this new organization. The overall idea is fundamentally sound, but success or failure comes down to execution and whether career bureaucrats can implement a proven business organizational model. My 3 minutes are up....

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  • residentDecember 08, 2012 - 8:21 am

    Bill E, what the county's whiz bang technology will never reveal is the behind-closed-doors pre&post-meeting deal-making.

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  • MikeDecember 08, 2012 - 7:08 pm

    McClintock disses solar power Congressman Tom McClintock, R-Elk Grove, had harsh words for the solar industry in comments to the county chamber on June 14. “Solar power is not new, not promising and certainly not cheap,” he said. The costs of a heavily subsidized solar industry are buried in taxes, and are an example of free-market meddling that drives outspoken conservative crazy. “Solar power has been sold to us as a great thing; it just needed to be subsidized a little bit… protect it, pour some money into research and development … this new promising technology will lead us into a Valhalla of clean, cheap electricity,” he continued. “That’s s a lie.”

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  • James E.December 08, 2012 - 7:32 pm

    Sounds like McClintock might be pro oil (cough, cough). People who are pro oil come out only at night -- they hate the sun and its capabilities.

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  • RichardDecember 08, 2012 - 7:50 pm

    No, not oil Colonel, Auburn Dam. The underwriters of Ray Nutting, McClintock and others need the water to develop 10,000 acres south of US Hywy #50 in Folsom and El Dorado County.

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  • Phil VeerkampDecember 08, 2012 - 9:28 pm

    Richard, can I simplify your Auburn dam comment thusly? California's future will need more water. Growth HAS to be part of the future. Sorry . . .

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  • RichardDecember 09, 2012 - 4:59 pm

    It’s not the dam or progress that upsets me Veerkamp, but the crooks trying to get the taxpayers to pay the bill for the water their projects need without paying their fair share, and the elected officials who seem more than willing to help for a campaign donation. There’s a big difference of the value of property with water as opposed to property without water. Talking about crooks a water, I'll certainly miss Sweeney when he leaves. He will be long remembered for his failure as the county negotiator for the SOFAR, Texas Hill and other water rights projects. How many million did those boondoggles cost the tax payers of El Dorado County, 20-30 million twenty years ago? And the current EID boss, wasn’t Jim involved with Kim Kerr in the Amador County Grand Jury investigation, seems he left shortly after and was hired by EID. And my all-time favorite, John Doolittle and the Auburn dam, seems to me the RFPs were cancelled when it was determined that organized crime had infiltrated the process, and wasn’t it one of the issues brought up during prosecution of Doolittle’s aid before he was sentenced to a little jail time? No, its not progress ……

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  • Fran DuchampSeptember 20, 2013 - 3:43 pm

    :)

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