AVCSD continues to smooth waters as consolidation ripples continue

Members of the American Valley Community Services District Board of Directors are still sorting out situations and problems as consolidation efforts continue into the new year.

No one thought it would be easy bringing two separate governing boards and their employees into one smoothly functioning operation, but as the months go by directors continue to strive toward that objective.

As the former directors of East Quincy Services District, now known as East, and Quincy Community Services District, now called West, began consolidation efforts, directors volunteered to serve on various standing committees.

Personnel is just one of those committees and Director Mike Beatty reported on what he believes is progress with the staff.

Recently, directors who serve on the personnel committee met with members of the operations staff for AVCSD.

“Frankly, they weren’t aware of some things,” Beatty told other directors. Some admitted to not having read the employee manual.

Despite that, Beatty said they were very respectful and well dressed. As part of the personnel plan, district operators are given uniform allowances. They are expected to wear a district hat, shirt and appropriate rain gear (as needed).

West employees generally had district-approved clothing. East employees were expected to catch-up with what was expected.

AVCSD attorney Josh Nelson recommended that each employee in operations be offered a one-time $300 so that everyone had what they needed, including boots as the appropriate footwear.

Dress and what AVCSD directors expect of operations employees are in the manual. Policy on hair and facial hair is also included, Beatty said.

President Denny Churchill summed up the dress policy when he said, they’re “Our employees and they are the services district.” Making sure they were easily identifiable and reasonably dressed was “money well spent.”

Aside from uniform policy, Beatty said there were other areas operators were in the dark about.

One of those areas involved skill-pay. This is when the district is willing to pay employees to improve their education when it comes to treatment operations.

Some thought the district had “done away” with it, said Director Darrell Brown. Some licensed operators thought there was a time limit attached to an offer.

Brown said he told them there is no time limit.

Skill pay, a term used by the district when referring to licensed operations upgrades toward new or advanced training for treatment plants, was discussed in detail by directors, the AVCSD general manager and assistant general manager last summer.

At that time General Manager Jim Doohan expressed concerns that operations staff didn’t seem interested in earning more money for upgrading their skills. Some of this was in the collections part of the operation, but also in other areas.

Operations staff could earn $1,350 for upgrading their skills, but when this didn’t attract anyone who was interested, directors decided to increase the rate to $2,080 paid as a kind of bonus at the end of the year.

Assistant General Manager Mike Green said that he held a meeting and explained everything to all the operators. He said he told them about a file folder with all of the information and where to find it to learn more or refresh their memories.

Green used the old saying that it was like taking a horse to water but someone can’t make it drink.

“They want to drink now,” Beatty said, quick to respond to Green. “They’re pretty excited about it now.”

Brown said that members of the personnel committee directed operations personnel back to Green for further discussion or direction.

While some of the training operations personnel can take is through specialized classes, some of it is available online.

This led to a discussion about when and where personnel could do the online work. It was ultimately determined that if online didn’t interfere with regular responsibilities, it was okay with directors that employees could spend an hour or so during work time.

While Beatty thought members of the committee made headway in explaining policies, he believed that it is important to continue to meet with a few at a time to continue answering questions and gaining the support of those who work at the district.

Katie Nunn, administrative secretary to the board, said she had started that process with the office staff.

Holidays listed

Unless changes are approved by a vote of the board of directors, all AVCSD can anticipate 14 paid holidays per year, including New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Lincoln’s Birthday, Presidents’ Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Veteran’s Day, Thanksgiving Day, the Day after Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve in lieu of Columbus Day, Christmas Day, a floating holiday and a personal day.

Floating and personal holidays must be scheduled and pre-approved by the general manager, according to the AVCSD policy book. And these two holidays cannot be accrued. “If those days are not used by the end of the calendar year, they will be cashed out with the next pay period,” according to the handbook.

A recognized holiday that falls on a Saturday would be observed on the Friday before. If the recognized holiday is on a Sunday, then it is observed that Monday.

No additional holidays are recognized, directors agreed.

As background information, when a national day of mourning was declared by President Trump for President George H.W. Bush, some employees thought they should also get the day off.

The national holiday was a one-time observance and only applied to federal employees. AVCSD were inadvertently given the day off, which set off a small chain reaction with a few Plumas County employees filing grievances because they weren’t given the day off.

It was made clear by AVCSD that no additional holidays will be granted without the full consent of the board.

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