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Supervisors upset over ‘hidden' costs

April 03, 2002|By LAURA MITCHELL, Staff Writer

County supervisors again expressed frustration over additional, hidden and unforeseen costs related to a project they already approved.

Last month, supervisors Wally Leimgruber and Joe Maruca said they were concerned with the way projects are proposed. At that time the supervisors were considering $263,230 for a computer-based mapping system for the county Assessor's Office. The cost to bring other county departments on line with the project could reach $680,000.

At Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting, county Purchasing Director Terry Huskey asked to hire someone who would train county staff to use a recently installed accounting system.

"I have a real problem with this again," Supervisor Gary Wyatt said. "What is the total cost of the Bi-Tech conversion?"


The cost of the accounting system by Sungard Bi-Tech of Chico was budgeted at $373,171. The county spent another $46,116 on unexpected hardware and software upgrades, county Auditor-Controller Douglas Newland said in an earlier interview.

On March 19, the board hired Prime Tech, Inc., of Fountain Valley as a contractor to manage the final stages of the county's accounting software conversion.

Wyatt said other departments are asking to add staff and upgrade equipment to bring the software online.

"By the time we're done with the $373,171 program, it's going to be a $1 million program," Wyatt said.

Supervisor Tony Tirado supported Huskey's request.

Although Leimgruber expressed frustration last month over the extra costs of the county mapping system, Tuesday he voted to support adding staff for the project.

The vote was split on Huskey's request, 2-2, with Tirado and Leimgruber voting for and supervisors Gary Wyatt and Hank Kuiper voting against, meaning the request was not approved. Maruca was not at Tuesday's meeting. Huskey said she would make the request again at next week's meeting when Maruca is expected to attend.

In other action, the board voted to oppose state Senate Bill 482, which would change the wording of the California Endangered Species Act. The bill proposes to be a solution for saving endangered or threatened species in the Salton Sea and Colorado River Basin.

Both Leimgruber and Wyatt, who are on the Salton Sea Authority board, oppose the bill, saying it does nothing to help the Salton Sea.

The board also:

· awarded a $591,737 contract to Granite Construction of El Centro for paving various county roads;

· approved a $500,000 grant application for home rehabilitation of targeted income groups on the condition county Community and Economic Development Director Ken Hollis finds the $100,000 in next year's budget;

· accepted a grant deed for 14 acres at the Gateway of the Americas development for a water treatment plant and retention basin. John Pierre Menville, one of the Gateway landowners, said the land has a staging area used for construction of the North Baja Pipeline, a project the county is suing to stop;

· approved an additional $45,000 to Dutton Consulting of San Diego for additional work as the project manager with the Gateway of the Americas development;

· supported an amendment to Assembly Bill 499, which proposes to balance jobs and housing. The amendment would change the Brawley Beef plant's zoning from a manufacturing enhancement area to an enterprise zone.

>> Staff Writer Laura Mitchell can be reached at 337-3452 or

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