The county is going to have to find some
They need money. That was the recurring theme heard during the Plumas County Board of Supervisors meeting last week. From County Clerk Kathy Williams who needs more money to conduct unforeseen elections, to Public Works Deputy Director Joe Blackwell who can’t pay enough to attract snowplow drivers — the departments need more money.
Another department that pleaded its case — the Sheriff’s Office — successfully lobbied for pay increases for its correctional and dispatch staffs who were woefully under paid compared to comparable counties throughout the North State.
But back to Williams whose staff is preparing for a March 26 special election to fill the seat vacated by former state Senator Ted Gaines who was elected to the Board of Equalization in last November’s general election. If no candidate receives 50 percent plus one vote, a runoff would be conducted June 4. And if Assemblyman Brian Dahle wins, then, according to Williams, another special primary election would be called to fill his seat. Williams estimates the upcoming special election will cost about $50,000 and the state doesn’t reimburse for election costs. If more elections are needed, the figure could rise to $100,000 or more.
For perspective, Plumas County’s contingency fund to pay for unexpected expenses stands at $54,000.
And, as the snow continues to come down, Plumas residents want their streets plowed, which presents a problem since there aren’t enough road department workers to do so.
“We run these jobs for months,” Blackwell told the supervisors during their meeting. It’s a job that requires a commercial driver’s license, mandatory drug testing and other stipulations, plus requires long hours of difficult work. But the biggest drawback, in Blackwell’s opinion, is that the starting wage is $12.96 an hour. Public works pays about half of what Caltrans pays, he told the board, so people would rather work there.
At one time Plumas County paid the full price for everyone’s insurance, Blackwell added, which boosted the salary package, making low wages more acceptable.
The supervisors are set to hold a mid-year budget review next Tuesday when no doubt these and other concerns will be addressed. Hopefully with the assistance of the county’s budget consultant and new administrator some answers and money will be found.
Do your part to help keep the roads clear
Since it’s been confirmed that there is a shortage of snowplow drivers, we all need to do our part to make their job easier and allow them to do their job more quickly. That means adhering to Plumas County Code Section 4-3.502 and California Vehicle Code CVC 22510, which prohibit parking a vehicle on the road or street right-of-way, or in any way hindering snow removal. This means that no one is allowed to park on or along the pavement, at the end of a street, around a cul-de-sac or on the shoulder of the road during snow removal. Please review the article in this newspaper that outlines what residents should do during a snowfall.