Former supervisor speaks out about mental health plans
For the second consecutive week, three supervisors conducted the county’s business. Terry Swofford is continuing to recuperate from surgery and Sherrie Thrall was out of town for the May 20 meeting.
But that didn’t stop several in the audience from speaking up during public comment.
Nansi Bohne, a former Plumas County supervisor and a member of the county’s mental health commission, asked the board to reconsider its decision to hire an outside consultant to review the mental health department and said she was going to present the issue to the commission when it meets next month. She worried primarily about patient privacy violations, but she had other concerns as well.
Reading from a written statement, she said, “Last year the Mental Health Services Act was drastically amended. We are now able to reach out with new and innovative programs in intervention and prevention, and we have the money to get the job done. It’s an exciting time, to be sure.
“However, what we don’t need right now is disruption, as will be the case if you should insist on bringing in an outside consulting group to assess our mental health program scope of work to be performed within what is, right now, a local high pressure atmosphere of program planning with deadlines fast approaching.”
Jean Moser, an in-home health worker, stood and handed each of the supervisors a quarter, and told them to take back their pay raise.
“It’s like a slap in the face to us,” she said. “$8.81 is not a fair wage.”
Though the supervisors usually do not respond during public comment, Chairman Jon Kennedy made an exception and said, “This board authorized a much higher wage than what you got.”
Three more in-home health workers also addressed the board.
Supervisor Lori Simpson also commented and noted that she serves on the Area Agency on Aging Commission.
“This country is going to need a million health care workers by 2020,” Simpson said, adding that board members would be among the baby boomers needing care.
The road department sought approval to purchase two LED display speed signs at a price of $4,278 each.
“I like LED signs; they work,” Board Chairman Jon Kennedy said.
These signs are slated to help control speed on Arlington Road in Taylorsville.
Lions and skunks and bears beware
Agricultural Commissioner Tim Gibson received authorization to transfer $5,600 in unused wages to prevent a lapse of coverage by a USDA wildlife services agent scheduled to be furloughed.
In the past the supervisors have discussed the bad timing for the furloughs, which coincides with the re-emergence of wildlife in the late spring and early summer.
“There was a bear down at Bank of America last night and mountain lions roaming the streets,” Supervisor Lori Simpson said.
Gibson said beavers have been posing a problem as well.
One job requires office skills, while the other is set outdoors, but the county is now trying to fill two more positions — a human resources technician for that department and a lead worker for the road department.
Human Resources Director Gayla Trumbo has a vacancy due to a transfer to another county department, and the road department position is the result of a promotion.
The county has recruited for 91 positions during the past 10 months. That compares to 65 last year.
When asked about the increase prior to the meeting, Trumbo said many vacancies were created by retirements or employees transferring to other departments.
“This sets off a chain reaction,” Trumbo said.
Trumbo explained that many of the transfers are a result of employees trying to advance. “There has been no COLA (cost of living adjustment) since 2007,” Trumbo said, so transferring into a better-paying position is one way for employees to achieve a pay raise.
As a result, the human resources department has exceeded its budget for recruiting costs such as advertising and testing, and asked the supervisors for approval to transfer money from unspent wages to cover the shortfall.
Leaving on a jet plane
That can’t be accomplished without jet fuel, and Rogers Field in Chester has been without that service in the wake of the retirement of Dan English at the end of March. English served as the airport manager, as well as the concessionaire for jet fuel.
The county’s director of facilities and airports, Dony Sawchuk, said that having jet fuel at Rogers Field is critical.
“The Forest Service is calling on a regular basis,” Sawchuk said. The county has a contract with the Forest Service and their helicopters and air tankers use the airport as a base to fight fires.
“This is critical because of fire season,” Simpson said.
Lake Almanor homeowners and tourists also fly private jets into Rogers Field and need the fuel.
Sawchuk received authorization to convert a 12,000-gallon fuel tank to accept jet fuel at a cost of $7,500 and purchase a used truck from English for $12,500. Sawchuk said that after researching used aviation refueling trucks, prices typically ranged from $55,000 to $189,000.
Money for the equipment and conversion will be taken from a general services account and repaid from the profits of selling the jet fuel. The conversion is expected to take two days.