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County accepts unconventional rent payment, but won’t do it again

Debra Moore
Staff Writer
12/18/2013

 

There’s more than one way to pay rent. Rather than write a check, Plumas Corp. paid the county in dirt.

The Board of Supervisors voted to accept the nontraditional payment during its Dec. 3 meeting.

Plumas Corp. paid the $1,000 annual rent for 2010-11 and 2011-12, but struck a deal with former facilities director Joe Wilson to waive the rent for 2012-13, in exchange for dirt fill used at Dame Shirley Plaza.

The retail value of the dirt was estimated between $1,900 and $2,900.

In his presentation to the supervisors, Dony Sawchuk, the current facilities director, said that while the “trade likely saved the county money,” it didn’t appear that the supervisors had formally approved the transaction. He recommended that the board accept the dirt as payment and consider the 2012-13 rent paid in full.

County Counsel Craig Settlemire backed Sawchuk and said it was important for accounting purposes.

Sawchuk also recommended that the county extend its lease with Plumas Corp. for one more year at the organization’s request.

The lease is for a 1-acre parcel to stockpile rock. Plumas Corp. wants to use the rock for a project on Greenhorn Creek that had been delayed, but now is projected to begin in August 2014.

The reason that the extension could pose a problem is because the Federal Aviation Association has strict rules about what can be near an airport.

In addition to the lease extension, Gia Martynn, the watershed coordinator for the project, asked the supervisors to waive the rent for the one-year extension, thus making a contribution to the Greenhorn Creek restoration project. The supervisors denied her request, but offered to prorate the $1,000 annual rent and only charge for the months that the land is used.

 

Faster, cheaper service

Plumas County is switching its Internet provider from AT&T to Plumas-Sierra Telecommunications. The move will save the county $300 per month ($1,500 instead of $1,815), and its service is expected to be six times faster.

 

Appointments

The supervisors appointed James LaPlante and Betty Bozeman to the Plumas County Mental Health Commission and Sharon Castaneda to the Grizzly Lake Community Services District board of directors. The Castaneda appointment was necessary to provide a quorum for the services district.

 

Jobs available

Public Works Director Bob Perreault is looking for a road maintenance lead worker in the Quincy area, while Public Health Director Mimi Hall received authorization to hire for three positions: outreach, fiscal management and senior services.

 

Salary reinstated

More than two years after the supervisors cut Fair Manager John Steffanic’s pay almost in half, they voted to reinstate his original salary.

The board hired Steffanic in April 2009 at $31.40 per hour.

But in 2011, the county’s general fund experienced a substantial decrease and the state cut its funding to fairs. The supervisors terminated Steffanic’s contract effective Sept. 2, 2011, but when he offered to work for $17.31 per hour, a new contract went into effect Nov. 1, 2011.

The next fiscal year brought some financial relief, and Steffanic’s salary rose to $25.16 per hour.

This year’s budget improved some more and during the budget hearings, Steffanic presented a budget proposal that reinstated his prior salary, returned the building and maintenance supervisor to full time and eliminated a vacant fiscal officer position.

The board’s Dec. 3 action amended Steffanic’s contract.

 

On the block

Facilities Director Dony Sawchuk announced that the county’s auction of surplus vehicles would be held Dec. 18 at 9 a.m. This is an online auction that can be accessed by visiting countyofplumas.com and clicking on a link that will access the auction.

 

Speaking of cars

Public Health Director Mimi Hall said that she has $35,000 to purchase two vehicles for her department and since recent bids exceeded her budget, she asked the supervisors for permission to negotiate directly with the vendors.

“Usually the CAO (county administrative officer) would be the one to handle this,” Hall said, but since the county doesn’t have a CAO, she asked to do it herself. Supervisor Jon Kennedy said, “I volunteer to help.”

The board granted her request to negotiate for vehicles, but denied her request to hire a veterans services officer at the highest salary step.

The A step for this position is $15 per hour, while the E step is $19.16 per hour.

When the county had an independent veterans services department, the director earned a salary of approximately $60,000. But as a cost-cutting measure, the department was folded into public health. The starting salary became $15 per hour for the non-department head position.

Supervisor Sherrie Thrall said that she couldn’t support anything above a C step, because she wanted employees to have incentives to earn more money.

Employees can be considered for a step increase after a year.

“It’s absurd that somebody could be paid $15 an hour for this position,” Kennedy said.

“I totally support him being hired at the E step,” Hall said.

Supervisor Kevin Goss said that he didn’t think that it was a fair salary range for the position, but Hall said that she didn’t want to make the employee wait while the county conducted a survey.

Ultimately the supervisors voted unanimously to hire the veterans services officer at the D step.

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