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April 15, 2015     Feather River Bulletin
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April 15, 2015
 

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6B Wednesday, April 15, 2015 Bulletin, Record, Progressive, Reporter Grand Jury. County sh uld consider hiring a CAO Editor's note: This midterm report was submitted by the 2014-15 Plumas County Civil Grand Jury. The Grand Jury plans topublish a series of midterm reports in the upcoming weeks. SUMMARY There are 58 counties in California. At the time of this report, three counties do not have county administrative officers: Glenn, Plumas and Sierra. The Plumas County Board of Supervisors has been operating without a CAO since April 2012. In November 2012, the BOS decided to leave the position of CAO vacant and assumed the duties of the CAO position to offer relief for the financial constraints imposed on the county due to the overall economic climate, declining population and unfunded mandates while continuing to provide for and address the needs of Plumas County's residents. The county has been operating without a CAO for the past two fiscal year budgets. The Grand Jury's question is "How is Plumas County doing without a CAO?" In our initial interviews, the Grand Jury was concerned with the circumstances that led the BOS to make the choice to assume the role of CAO rather than hiring another CAO. We found that although the last CAO left by mutual agreement among the BOS, conflicts over management issues left a lingering resistance by some employees to work with another CAO. We found that even though many employees were hesitant to work with another CAO, they felt the county would be better served with a CAO. The BOS has chosen to proceed without a CAO, which is arguably its most valuable organizational tool,: The Grand Jury finds the BOS is focusing on the day-to-day operation(s) of the county rather than taking a more proactive approach and making a long-range strategic plan(s). The Grand Jury recommends that the BOS consider hiring a CAO to manage the organization, which would allow supervisors to address long-range planning analysis of the county's future needs for service with the impacts of legislation, budget constrictions and our declining population. This would be a more proactive. BACKGROUND The California Constitution recognizes two types of counties: general law and charter. There are 44 general law counties and 14 charter counties. Plumas County is a general law county and therefore would have an administrative CAO. An admInistrative CAO is essentially the agent of the BOS, unlike an executive CAO, which has more authority. Only charter counties can establish the position of county manager or executive CAO. Plumas County's CAO job description, as it appears in Plumas County's human resources records, states that the CAO position is to ensure the delivery of quality county services in a cost-effective manner in accordance with the vision and policies outlined by the Board of Supervisors and its constituents. Responsibilities include administering policies of the BOS; supervision of all appointed department heads; monitoring legislative affairs; preparing the county's annual budget; reviewing all agenda items for the Board of Supervisors; serving as budget officer; and undertaking studies and investigations for the BOS. This job description is consistent with the California State Association of Counties. By statute,the BOS is authorized to provide services to its citizens and, at their discretion, establish departments, boards, commissions and districts to meet community needs. Plumas County has previously employed several CAOs. Since the Nov. 6, 2012, BOS decision to leave the CAO position vacant and to fill the role of the CAO itself, LET US SAVE YOU TIME & MONEY REACH 75+ MILLION READERS WiTH ONE ORDER, ONE BILL! 7~,~ Community Classified lx $650 Statawlde ~" 25 words~245+ papers $435 North/S485 South ~& Dally Classified 7 days $995 ~ 25 words~41 papers~7 days $650 North/S650 South ~o CLASSIFIED COMBO 8 days $1,270 25 words~282+ papersStatewide ~o DISPLAY - Community Newspapers 140+ papers lx $1,600 2x2 Statewide; Sizes: 2x2; 2x4; 2x5; 2x6 $1 240 2x2 No.; $1,240 2x2 So. CALIFORNIA NEWSPAPERS DELIVER! the BOS has divided up the all county departments, between appointed workload fluctuates with CAO duties, with supervisors including the 2014-15 department heads and the Incremental statgmg changes taking on many duties CalPERS rates and the 2014 elected BOS, coordinate and election changes, as well themselves and assigning health insurance benefits, programs within as budget impacts. This other duties to selected projected the cost associated . departments, resolve affects the county's employees. The BOS with the Office of the CAO, departmental conflicts and be administrative effectiveness determIned that this action which includes a CAO and an an on-site employee, as a whole. The BOS will was one of the necessary executive assistant position Currently, these have to evaluate those steps toward saving money in for the current fiscal year. supervisorial duties are impacts and make the General Fund. The BOS The cost would total lacking in organization, adjustments. The BOS is has not monitored the cost approximately $247,969.34. In according to some employees, currently acting in a savings, nor have they the adopted 2014-15 fiscal The Grand Jury ffmds that crisis-management mode due assigned any staff to record year budget, the BOS these are some of the to budget constraints, any cost savings. The current contracted a budget nonmonetary costs to the unfunded mandates and Plumas County adopted consultant to assist in county by leaving the CAO declining population. budget for 2014-15 identifies developing the current position vacant. While in the midst of an the CAO position as "vacant" adopted budget and has given The Grand Jury has economic crisis, the BOS has and "unfunded." an annual stipend to an identified the benefits ofmaintained the status quo employee for taking on the working without a CAO. and that is to be applauded, METHOD OF APPROACH responsibility of certainAmong these benefits are: but it cannot be described as The Grand Jury administrative functions that --The BOS has indeed progress. interviewed five elected were previously done by the saved money. The Grand Jury believes officials, six department CAO and/or his or her --The BOS has established the BOS needs to address heads and other county executive assistant. These a closer working relationship these issues, with or without employee(s). The Grand Jury two expenditures total with department heads, a CAO, and that can be done reviewed a number of $42,000. --The BOS has become by setting clear countywide documents including county Using these figures, the more familiar with the goals. ordinance(s) and Grand Jury has identified a internal mechanics of eachThe BOS needs to quantify resolution(s), Board of cost savings in the amount of department, or track the results of the Supervisors' minutes and approximately $205,969.34. --The BOS has become goals. This would afford the agendas, the auditor's report, Plumas County has no more familiar with variousdepartment heads the ability personnel rules, accounting procedure in types of funding sources to then set their goals memorandums of place that would allow the other than the General Fund. accordingly. understanding with Grand Jury to track ongoing The Grand Jury has also In our study, we found how OperatIng Engineers Local expenses as they relate to the become aware of the needs of another county working No. 3 Mid-Management & duties of a CAO. The Grand department heads and staff in without a CAO has handled Supervisors Unit, Crafts & Jury has found many which the BOS falls short:the situation. The Colusa Trade Unit, Probation additional duties and --Many felt that a CAO County BOS authorized a Mid-Management Unit, workloads taken on by notstreamlined the budget study to review its options Probation Unit, the only the BOS but by processand offered better and approach for the position Confidential Employees department heads and other communications, of CAO. Association, the Sheriffs employees. Most of these --It was pointed out that a In January 2014, the Colusa Unit and the Sheriffs additional duties have been CAO position can provide County BOS chose to amend Management Unit, the credit taken on without pay. relief for the BOS. the CAO job description, card policy, state reports and Other unidentifiable costs --With a CAO, appointed consolidating the clerk of the articles on county structures associated with those duties department heads report toboard with the county and power, demographicand were dispersed and absorbed an appointed CAO who then administrative officer. With population information and by the individual answers to an elected BOS.this change to an County of Colusa Board of departmental budgets. This is --The CAO is the missing administrative-style CAO Supervisors minutes and a limited, one-sided picture of link between department with limited executive agendas, and scrutinized the savings accrued with no heads and BOS. It is difficult decision-making abilities, a other counties that continue verifiable forensic analysis to for a department head to CAO has been hired. This is to operate without a CAO. recapture expenditure have five bosses, and with a an option the BOS may want figures ranging from 2012 to CAO there is only one who to consider when reassessing DISCUSSION present, then answers to the BOS. the CAO's role in this county. The Grand Jury was Although the BOS can --Some department heads The Grand Jury found that initially concerned with why demonstrate some are not working well together the Board of Supervisors and the BOS would make a salary/benefit savIngs byand do not have a clear staffare to be commended for dramatic change from having leaving the CAO position understanding of their roles, addressing this fiscal a traditional CAO to taking vacant, the Grand Jury finds It is important for struggle by taking on on the job itself, regardless of that the choice of leaving the department heads to make additional responsibilities, whether issues with the CAO position vacant comescontact with the BOS most without additional former CAO were personality with a cost to the whole regarding direction and not remuneration or pay. The conflicts with department organization that is moreviolating the Brown Act; aBoard of Supervisors has met heads and employees, a lack than just monetary. CAO can supervise all its intended goal of some of supervision of the CAO by The employees who were department heads without financial savings by not the BOS, or an opportunity to interviewed had previous violating the Brown Act. replacing the CAO but there save money, experience working for or--A CAO serves as a buffermay be hidden costs in As a result of our with other CAOs as well as or a bridge between operating without a CAO that interviews, study and having worked with the appointed department headshave yet to be adequately analysis, the Grand Jury former CAO of Plumas and the elected BOS accounted for in any cost found it could have been any County. These employees department heads, analysis report. or all of the above and pointed out that some of the --It is more convenient for redirected its focus to the past problems went away department heads to work FINDINGS matter at hand: "How are we when the BOS assumed the with an on-site CAO. The F1) The Grand Jury finds a doing without a CAO?" role of the CAO. Some of BOS is not in Quincy everyCAO would free up the BOS The Grand Jury wanted to these issues are public day. to focus on strategic planning verify the actual amount knowledge and have been in --Without a CAO, when instead of reacting to saved by leaving the CAO's the local newspaper and issues cannot be resolved everyday operational office vacant. This is very some were handled in between departments, they matters. difficult to do as there is no executive session of the BOS. are taken to the BOS in a F2) The Grand Jury has accounting procedure in Many employees stated their public hearing, and having to identified an estimated cost place tracking the savings opinion that although thetake issues to the entire BOS savings in operating without accrued or where the other county is managing without in a public meeting is not the a CAO in the amount of operational costs were a CAO, it would be better if best conflict resolution approximately $205,969.34, absorbed. At the request of the county had a CAO. Many method:- but there is no accounting the Grand Jury, the county's employees stated the job of a --Without a CAO, there is a procedure in place to allow Human Resources CAO is to manage the lack of coordination between an accurate cost/expenditure Department, using a budget multiple departments, seek to departments, analysis as some module that developed the fulfiU the goals set by the --The current department unidentifiable costs have salary and benefit budget for BOS, serve as a bridge head meetings are not wellbeen dispersed and absorbed attended and do not offer the by the individual coordination needed between departments taking on the departments. The meetings additional workload. do not offer any conflict F3) The Grand Jury fmds it resolution without the BOS. The Grand Jury found the See Grand Jury, page 7B unbelievably low maintenance lawn Tired of mowing and feeding your lawn all the time? Tired of watering all the time? 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