County's new deputy CEO just getting warmed up

June 14, 2002|By LAURA MITCHELL, Staff Writer

Imperial County's new deputy county executive officer, Matt Gargiulo, has been on the job for almost eight weeks, just enough time to get warmed up to desert politics.

"My experience, so far — there's some politics here. But there are a lot of the same issues as other areas of California," Gargiulo said.

Gargiulo, 42, is third in charge in the county government hierarchy among non-elected officials, behind County Executive Officer Ann Capela and Assistant CEO Robertta Burns.

He earns $54,704 per year as deputy CEO.

Gargiulo's background and expertise is working with local government budgets. This year, with Gov. Gray Davis' proposed budget cuts of over $23 billion, will be a test Gargiulo's command of the bottom line.


Gargiulo said Capela wants him to make county departments more accountable for their expenses. That can be done by having internal service departments, those that provide internal support to the county government and bill other departments for the services they provide.

For example, when human resources provides services to the District Attorney's Office, human resources would bill the DA for the services. This would make it accountable for the amount of services it uses.

Gargiulo said some department heads don't like the new accountability but it will help keep costs down.

"County budgets are as difficult as you can get," Gargiulo said.

Counties get most of their money from the state. The state mandates counties to do certain things, follow certain state laws and regulation, but it doesn't always reimburse counties for following these mandates, he said.

"There's going to be hard choices for the board. That's their job," he said.

Gargiulo said it's Capela's job to give the board a balanced budget that reflects their desires and the community's needs.

"Some things you want to cut are political and difficult to cut or reduce," he said.

The goal of the administration is to provide the board with options, Gargiulo said.

The budget cuts might take some creative thinking but Imperial County has much potential and room for people with creative ideas, he said.

The county's potential for growth is one of the things that attracted Gargiulo to the position.

"It fits with my career goals, what I want to do and where I want to be," he said.

Gargiulo was born in El Centro but when he was 3 years old his family moved to the Salinas Valley, where he grew up.

He graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo with a degree in history. He earned a master's degree in public policy and management from the graduate school of public and international affairs at the University of Pittsburgh.

Gargiulo moved to Fresno, where he got a job with the city and became the assistant director of the department of administrative services but said he "topped out" with the city and needed to look for other opportunities.

He wasn't in a position to wait for his boss to retire — his boss was one year older than him.

Gargiulo added his wife of 10 months, Anastasia, didn't like Fresno.

"My wife is from Arizona and is used to the desert climate but I'm still adapting," Gargiulo said.

Gargiulo, an avid jogger, said the heat would limit the time it's safe to run to early in the morning.

"When I lived in Fresno, I thought 105 degrees was hot. I understand here it's just balmy," he said.

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

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