Perceived inequities causing rift among county employees
“The way of doing business in Plumas County is wearing several hats,” Public Works Director Bob Perreault told the Board of Supervisors during the board’s Sept. 3 meeting as he sought to add a new job classification to his department.
But Perreault’s request triggered a discussion that reached far beyond his own department.
“I know we come to the board as individual departments,” Public Health Director Mimi Hall said. “But it affects the county as a whole.”
Hall and other department heads were in the audience as Perreault sought to add the title of public works fiscal officer/administrative services manager to his department in recognition of the work that one of his employees is doing.
That employee, who has been categorized as a fiscal officer, has slowly taken on more duties over the years to the point that she is working out of her job classification at least 50 percent of the time.
Human Resources Director Gayla Trumbo had received, reviewed and investigated the request and recommended that the board recognize the employee’s added duties with the new job title.
Trumbo provided the supervisors with a three-page detailed analysis of the reclassification.
Supervisor Sherrie Thrall said she knew the person who was holding the position and described her as “highly skilled” but questioned whether it would be possible to find another person to fit this job description if she were to leave.
“It doesn’t feel right when you tailor a position to one person’s abilities,” Thrall said.
The reclassification also comes at a higher pay grade.
“It puts the top fiscal officers at odds in pay,” Public Health Director Hall told the board. She noted that other departments such as social services and the sheriff’s department had already made changes that resulted in disparity among fiscal officers.
Hall said this is occurring when county employees have not received cost-of-living adjustments and are taking home less in their paychecks due to increased costs for health insurance and retirement benefits.
“There are so many issues regarding pay,” Hall said. “I know this is a sore subject for our employees.”
“I echo what Mimi (Hall) said,” Assessor Chuck Leonhardt agreed. “It creates issues.”
Supervisor Jon Kennedy had met with Trumbo and Perreault previously about this job classification request and said he had all of his questions answered.
“Gayla (Trumbo) was very, very thorough,” Kennedy said. “I learned quite a bit.”
He said that he had “no doubt” that the individual deserved it, and noted that he had asked some “very prying” questions.
“My biggest concern is the job description,” Kennedy said, as he also wondered what would happen when the individual left the job.
He said he supported the reclassification, but not retroactive pay.
Hall suggested that one way to provide more equity for the departments would be to add the “position of services administration officer across the board,” which would allow more departments to better classify their employees.
The supervisors voted unanimously to approve the reclassification.
The board also voted unanimously to amend the job description for assistant auditor controller, but with almost no discussion.
Human Resources Director Gayla Trumbo told the board that it had been 18 years since the job description was last revised.
The position is currently vacant, and though the board in mid-August gave Auditor Roberta Allen authorization to fill the position, a revised job description was needed.
“As expected with any 18-year-old job description, revisions are necessary to accurately define this position for prospective applicants and future incumbents,” Trumbo wrote in her recommendation.
Veterans services officer
The supervisors granted Public Health Director Mimi Hall’s request to recruit and hire a full-time veterans services officer.
The position is currently being filled by an extra help employee working part-time, who recently completed the requisite training and passed the exam to receive certification as a veterans services officer.
Hall said that a full-time position is necessary to address the needs of the county’s 2,500 veterans and their families.
Hall reminded the supervisors that veterans services used to have a staff of three.
Supervisor Lori Simpson worried about the perception that somebody had already filled the position that is subject to the competitive hiring process.
“I worry about how it looks,” she said. “Like it’s already a done deal.”
Hall said the extra-help employee knows that he must apply for the job, and, if another applicant were to be selected, he or she would receive the necessary training and certification to fill the position.
Hall is also recruiting a half-time senior services director.