Supervisors act on suggestion of observer
The Plumas Board of Supervisors was poised to grant a short-term loan of $25,000 to the Grizzly Ranch Community Services District during its Aug. 20 meeting, when audience member Larry Douglas raised his hand.
“Does the county charge the special district interest?” he asked.
There was a pause.
County Counsel Craig Settlemire told the supervisors that it would be at their discretion whether they wanted to charge interest.
After a brief discussion, the supervisors voted to loan the special district $25,000 and charge an interest rate that would compensate for lost potential.
“The county is losing the use of these funds,” said Thrall in making the motion to charge interest.
Treasurer Julie White will determine what interest rate would fairly compensate the county.
District Attorney David Hollister hired three employees at the “C” step, which allowed him to pay those individuals more than if they had been hired at an entry level step, but he didn’t obtain approval first.
Without the approval traditionally granted by the county administrative officer, the employees were instead paid at a lower rate.
Since the county is operating without a CAO, the Board of Supervisors is tasked with approving “C” step hires.
The new deputy district attorney, a community care case manager and a legal services assistant were all recently hired by Hollister at the higher pay level.
“All three are exceptionally well-qualified and it is my opinion that they should be compensated at the ‘C’ step,” Hollister wrote in a memo to the board. He also included a detailed description of the deputy district attorney’s qualifications.
Hollister did not attend the meeting because he was in the midst of jury selection for an upcoming murder trial, so fiscal officer Barbara Palmerton represented him.
Palmerton took responsibility for the situation. “I forgot that it required CAO approval,” she said. “It had been so routine in the past.”
That admission prompted a discussion by the supervisors regarding hiring practices.
“It disturbs me greatly that a department would think the CAO would just rubber-stamp,” Supervisor Sherrie Thrall said.
Supervisor Jon Kennedy said that County Clerk Kathy Williams had recently correctly handled the process by receiving approval to hire up to the “C” step before she interviewed for a position.
Palmerton clarified that the CAO didn’t simply “rubber-stamp” a higher step; the request had to be justified.
In addition to “C” step approval, the supervisors were asked to make the pay retroactive to the date of hire, which was Aug. 5 for the deputy district attorney, and July 29 for the other two employees.
Ultimately, Lori Simpson, Kevin Goss and Terry Swofford voted in favor of the request, while Kennedy and Thrall voted against.
“It’s not that they don’t deserve it,” Kennedy said in voting against the measure, but he objected to the manner in which it was handled, and he didn’t want the pay to be retroactive.
Goss seconded the motion made by Simpson and voted in favor of the request because he said the employees had been promised the pay rate when they were hired.
Music lovers have another opportunity to attend a music festival in Plumas County — Belden is playing host to the “Stilldream” festival Oct 4 – 7.
The event is expected to draw 800 attendees, staff and artists to the Canyon area.
Festival organizers provided the Plumas Board of Supervisors with plans for the event during the Aug. 20 meeting.
Deputy to be hired
Sheriff Greg Hagwood plans to hire a deputy to help oversee the state inmates who are returning to the county. Hagwood told the supervisors that the position would be funded by a grant through the probation department.
He said that he had a candidate who was finishing field training and would be available for the position.
The next Board of Supervisors meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 3, at 10 a.m. on the third floor of the county courthouse.