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Supervisors begin budget talks; New employees top wish list

Debra Moore
Staff Writer

After years of cuts in personnel, department heads want to see some positions restored.

Of the six county department heads who met with the Plumas County supervisors Aug. 12, three asked for more employees.

The supervisors were in information-gathering mode, not making decisions, so the officials made their pitch but will have to wait until the board has met with all of the departments before knowing whether their requests will be granted.

Planning Director Randy Wilson, Director of Facilities Dony Sawchuk and County Clerk Kathy Williams presented their departments’ budgets and asked for an additional employee each.

Treasurer Julie White, Human Resources Director Gayla Trumbo and Assessor Chuck Leonhardt presented basically status quo budgets.

In making his pitch for extra staff, Wilson cited not only the workload, but also the need for a succession plan.

“I’m 60 and Becky (Herrin) is younger, but may be in a better position to retire,” he said. “How do you keep continuity as you move into the future?”

He continued, “I get concerned about institutional knowledge. I’m a planner; I look to the future.”

Supervisor Lori Simpson noted that hiring another planner wouldn’t guarantee that he or she would stay. She also asked Wilson to better define the department’s workload.

“I’d like to see how many projects are coming in,” she said.

Wilson itemized some of the tasks he and Herrin face every day, from simply answering the phones to processing mining permits to completing environmental studies.

It’s also time for the county to update its zoning ordinances to reflect the new general plan. “The zoning code could be more controversial than the general plan,” Wilson said.

Facilities Director Sawchuk also wants additional help, which he calculated would cost about $72,000 with salary and benefits. He said in lieu of adding an employee, an alternative would be to change the job classifications of his current staff and then add some temporary help.

Sawchuk described several instances in which his crew was able to save the county money because of their abilities.

“Again, by utilizing the talent we have, we saved the jail $15,000 (in doing electronic lock work),” he said. “All of our equipment, we don’t send it out, we repair it in house. It’s a shame to use that talent for weed whacking.”

Clerk Williams asked for an additional employee whose time would be divided between her office and records management.

The supervisors were scheduled to meet with several more departments Aug. 19, with the final meetings set for a special board meeting Aug. 26, which will include the sheriff, district attorney and probation.

A public hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 23, with final adoption scheduled for Sept. 30.

In September, the board will depart from its normal schedule, skipping the first Tuesday of the month, and meet the final four Tuesdays.

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