By Debra Moore
“We’re going to have to get really lean and mean.”
That’s the sentiment expressed by Supervisor Jeff Engel during today’s Board of Supervisors meeting. His comment came as Probation Chief Erin Metcalf asked the board for permission to fill two vacant positions. Ultimately she received the go ahead to hire one, with both Engel Supervisor Sherrie Thrall expressing concern about the 2020-2021 budget.
He wasn’t the only supervisor with a beef. Toward the end of the meeting Board Chairman Kevin Goss expressed extreme frustration with the lack of reliable communication service in the western part of Plumas County. While it’s always an issue, the Hog Fire, near Susanville, destroyed the one cable bringing Internet into the Lake Almanor Basin, Greenville and beyond. He said it’s time for the situation to change.
Earlier in the meeting Sheriff Todd Johns said that Frontier Communications replaced the damaged lines last evening, only to have them destroyed again. Crews are working on the lines yet again.
The board approved an ordinance that tightens what type of activities are allowed at the county’s airports. For example, it’s not appropriate for yard sales to be conducted in airport hangars. “This is an effort to clean up the activities out there,” said County Administrator Gabriel Hydrick as he presented the matter to the board.
“I’m glad this is being done,” said Supervisor Lori Simpson.
Though a public hearing was scheduled, no members of the public were present to comment. The board voted unanimously to waive the first reading of the ordinance, paving the way for changes to take effect.
The board also considered requests from Public Health to fill a vacant management analyst position and from Probation to fill two legal services assistant positions.
The supervisors voted unanimously to support Public Health Director Andrew Woodruff’s request. The position was open due to a resignation and his department is also state and federally funded.
However, Probation Chief Metcalf’s request was a little different, in that the vacancies resulted from two promotions and her department depends on the county general fund.
Metcalf described the positions as critical since they are the employees who interact with everyone that enters the office. “They see, hear and handle everything,” she said.
Metcalf indicated that she had met with the county budget committee the day prior and the issue was discussed. Supervisor Sherrie Thrall, who is part of that committee, said, “I think we’re really close to having a hiring freeze,” and suggested that one of the two positions be put on hold.
Plumas County is facing the same budget woes that all cities, counties and states are facing, as a result of the pandemic. Dealing with coronavirus results in increased costs, while tax revenues and other funding sources are being reduced.
Metcalf suggested an extended recruitment period, but Thrall said she would vote no on two positions. Supervisor Engel agreed, and said, “I don’t want to hire two and fire one, and that’s where we’ll be.”
The board voted to authorize the filling of one vacant position.
New IT Director
The supervisors voted to name Greg Ellingson the county’s new Information Technology Director. Ellingson already works in the department and his succeeding longtime director Dave Preston who retired earlier this summer.