Supervisors debate and split on request for computersDebra Moore
The Mental Health Department’s request to spend $88,000 on computers triggered a lengthy discussion during the Plumas County Board of Supervisors meeting Aug. 19.
The money would cover 42 desktop computers, seven laptops and two tablets, as well as multiple monitors.
Mental Health Director Peter Livingston spent much of the time defending his request for two monitors per computer.
“It’s a luxury,” Supervisor Jon Kennedy said. “I have it, but I’m a private citizen.”
Using two monitors makes it possible to have multiple windows open more easily.
“I understand your point,” Livingston said, “but to me $5,000 (the portion of the cost attributable to monitors) … you garner that much in efficiency.”
Supervisor Sherrie Thrall wasn’t just concerned with multiple monitors; she wanted to know if the existing computers could be upgraded.
Livingston received help from Dave Preston, the county’s information technology director, who said that trying to update 8-year-old computers could cause more problems.
Thrall also wanted to know what would happen to the old computers. Livingston explained that to protect health information, the hard drives are removed and sent to Kings View (the county’s system provider) to be destroyed.
“They could go to the county,” Livingston said of the remaining hardware.
“You are the county,” Supervisor Lori Simpson said.
Livingston said he simply meant “as opposed to the Chico Recycling Center” or another similar entity.
The supervisors ultimately approved the equipment purchase but with the admonition that Livingston carefully consider the need for each piece of equipment, especially the monitors.
Thrall voted against authorizing the purchase, and Terry Swofford wasn’t present for the vote.
The county does not fund the mental health department. Its revenues come from state and federal sources.
The department also received authorization to fill two vacant positions: a program chief and mental health or behavioral health therapist.
The supervisors joined the city of Portola in declaring a local emergency due to the drought.
Jerry Sipe, the county’s director of the office of emergency services, said that while the declaration provides little functionally, it brings attention to the area.
New job descriptions
The supervisors approved new job descriptions for the assistant director of public health and a green waste attendant.
The former is a new description that more accurately describes the job. “The change will broaden the pool of applicants and creates a nice ladder,” said Human Resources Director Gayla Trumbo.
The second description is for a new position.