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Department heads fought against plan

September 19, 2001|By RUDY YNIGUEZ, Staff Writer

County Executive Officer Ann Capela's reorganization plan was rejected by the county Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

On Monday, elected county department heads were asked what they thought of the plan and what input they'd had.

District Attorney Gilbert G. Otero said Monday he is adamantly opposed to the move, and presented the county Board of Supervisors with a letter describing that opposition.

"The proposed reorganization has been a moving target and is contrary to county policy," the Sept. 17 letter states. "The pay ranges and job descriptions for the proposed assistant (county executive officer), deputy CEO and intergovernmental relations director have changed on numerous occasions and the supporting backup material has been slow in delivery (e.g., just last week the proposed plan was revised on the day of the Board (of Supervisors) meeting and again on Friday."

In fact, at last Tuesday's board meeting, the supervisors were presented with new information during the meeting, and county executive staff was arriving to pass out more as the meeting had just ended.

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A chart passed out then shows elected department heads beneath the yet-to-be-hired deputy CEOs.

Otero's letter argues the reorganization's cost analysis does not reflect that the top salary range for the assistant CEO will increase by $40,920; that the top salary range for the senior administrative analyst will increase by $26,496; that the top salary range for the vacant administrative analyst position will increase by $37,476; that the salary range for the vacant affirmative action officer position will increase by $21,648; and that the intergovernmental relations director position is unnecessary and the proposed salary range is excessive.

Capela criticized Otero's report because, according to her, Otero had not done the report himself and instead only attached his name on it.

Under Capela's plan, newly hired deputy CEOs would earn as much as $82,097, and be tasked to "interact with assigned department directors and elected county officers to determine progress, develop new plans and programs and coordinate their efforts; review, recommend, monitor, approve and provide oversight for assigned budget items; assure operations of assigned departments are consistent with overall county priorities."

The newly created intergovernmental relations director would earn as much as $97,760.

The money for all of the new positions would come from the county's general fund.

Elected department heads who could be reached had various comments.

Sheriff Harold Carter said he let Capela know that elected department heads know they want to be separated from the flow chart being passed out.

"She claims it's not a governance chart, but a working chart," Carter said. "She assured me that it won't affect my department in any way."

Carter said the CEO should have the latitude to reorganize the county, though not necessarily the salaries. He said Capela also assured him that elected department heads are equal to members of the Board of Supervisors.

"She has no oversight of my department or offices," Carter said, adding that he's heard a lot of discontent among elected and nonelected department heads over the issue. "I don't report to the CEO and I don't report to the board. I report to the people."

Dolores Provencio, county clerk/recorder/registrar of voters, said she gave input on the issue at a workshop, where it was emphasized the deputy CEOs were strictly for budgetary assistance purposes. She said department heads typically receive help from budget analysts when preparing budgets.

"It's always been helpful to have that help," she said.

Provencio said she had not seen the flow chart that had been passed out by the CEO office and could not comment on it.

Tax Collector Donna Yarnell said she had mixed emotions about the proposal, and that her department would not be affected by it. She said it is a given and OK that the board has oversight of county budgets.

"I'm concerned about the cost," she said.

Yarnell said she has always considered herself a team player but she answers to the electorate, a public stance she has never had to take in front of county officials.

"It's a tough scenario," she said of the proposal.

Yarnell said she too attended the workshop and Capela assured elected department heads that they would not be affected by the reorganization.

"We all have to work together," Yarnell said.

Public Administrator Norma Saikhon said Capela proposed a reorganization in response to board direction.

"She has a job to do and has to do it," Saikhon said. "I don't quite agree with the salaries."

Saikhon said all the county's departments are understaffed and employees do not get paid enough. She also said it is sort of frustrating to see such high salaries being offered to deputy CEOs.

"The departments have gone without for so long," she said.

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