New county position not necessary, say officials

March 08, 2002|By LAURA MITCHELL

Staff Writer

County Supervisor Wally Leimgruber has continually voiced his opposition to the county's new intergovernmental relations director position and he's not alone.

The position is about to be filled, but some think it's unnecessary in a time of impending state cuts to county budgets, including one prominent county official.

The Imperial Valley Press filed a public records request Tuesday with the county after not being allowed to access information about the position.


District Attorney Gilbert G. Otero said: "I don't feel the position is necessary. We're going to pay this person a pretty good chunk of money and with the state budget cuts, I don't think we need it."

The position's salary range is $78,000 to $99,548 a year, plus expenses that would include travel and staff support.

There is no position like Imperial County's intergovernmental relations director in similarly-sized California counties like El Dorado or Shasta counties.

Imperial County has a population of 145,000.

In El Dorado County, with a population of 156,000, each individual county department handles legislative issues by itself, El Dorado County Economic Development Director Shawna Purvines said.

Shasta County Chief Administrative Officer H. Douglas Latimer said Shasta County contracts with a lobbyist in Sacramento who works with other county governments. Shasta County's population is 170,000.

"We had a position like that but when we lost money several years ago because of ERAF, we had to eliminate it and go with a contractor," Latimer said.

ERAF refers to the Educational Revenue Augmentation Fund, into which the state Legislature transferred billions of dollars in county property tax money to schools in 1992-93.

But to be fair, it's hard to compare one county to another, Latimer said. They have different needs, he said.

Leimgruber said the county already has lobbyists and organizations that provide information on legislation.

Imperial County paid $20,500 in dues last year to the California State Association of Counties for state legislative information, association Controller Steve O'Brien said.

The county's Sacramento lobbyist, Bill Dohring, said he's aware of the new director position and is under the impression it would be in addition to the job he's doing. Dohring said the county pays him $30,000 a year.

The county gets federal legislative information from the National Association of Counties, where it paid $1,980 in dues last year, NACO accountant Grace Adams said.

>> Staff Writer Laura Mitchell can be reached at 373-3452 or

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