The Mono County Board of Supervisors sparred with Sheriff Rick Scholl over his department’s staffing levels at its regular Board meeting on Tuesday.
Due to a recent departure (Sgt. Craig Nelson) and another likely defection of a deputy, Scholl asked the Board to fill two deputy positions, with the idea that he would then promote someone within the existing ranks to fill Nelson’s vacancy.
The Board, however, took Scholl’s agenda item as an opportunity to suggest he look at a reorganization (potentially winnowing the department’s number of sergeant positions from four to three).
District II Supervisor Hap Hazard noted that one of the fourth sergeant’s responsibilities is to act as the county’s OES (Office of Emergency Services) coordinator.
Hazard believes the OES responsibilities may not require sergeant-level administration and that OES could be “separated out.”
When Scholl said that as a result of being a sergeant down, his Undersheriff, Ralph Obenberger, had had to assume a lot of watch shifts lately, District III Supervisor Vikki Bauer (just sworn in as new Board Chairman) said we’re a small community and the Undersheriff should be expected to fill in as a watch commander when necessary.
Pushing back, Scholl used terms like “imperative” and “critical” in defense of a fourth sergeant’s position.
He also very graciously noted that he had appeared before the Board as a courtesy – he had the authority to fill the positions, but understanding the current economic environment, had wanted to keep Supervisors abreast of what he was doing.
As Supervisor Tim Hansen explained afterwards, the 2011-2012 budget and organizational chart has already been approved and what Scholl was requesting did not stray from those parameters. He didn’t have to come before the Board, and Hansen, for one, didn’t understand what all the fuss was about.
“He’s doing a good job,” said Hansen. “Let him run his department.”
He also pointed out that Scholl had agreed to the elimination of a lieutenant’s position just last year.”
“I don’t want to get into an adversarial position with the Board,” said Scholl, understanding that there’s always a next year when it comes to how the Board handles the purse strings.
However, Scholl also believes that the department could be thrust into a compromised and potentially liable situation “if we don’t have proper supervision in the field.”
Supes voted 4-1 to authorize Scholl to hire two deputies and asked him to come back with a revised organizational chart before committing to the 4th sergeant.
1.) Local fire districts are peeved about the County’s imposed “property tax administration fees.” In essence, administrative costs are always a great way to create new taxes in disguise.
2.) The county will spend a few thousand bucks to crack-seal the Airport road, even though Supervisor Tim Hansen insisted they’re not cracks anymore, but “miniature earthquake faults.” He urged that the road be given to the town in the hopes that the town might be able to swing an FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) grant to pay for it.
While Supervisor Larry Johnston noted this was a small price to pay for such a “huge economic engine down there [commercial airport],” Supervisor Hap Hazard needled, “If the airport [and the condition of the pavement to and from] is such a concern, why not start with your own [gravel] parking lot?”
3.) Supervisors committed to waiving tipping fees if the Town of Mammoth decides to initiate a free cleanup day. Sierra Valley Sites, said Supervisor Johnston, looks in a bit more disarray this winter because there’s no snow to mask the blemishes.
Finally, without a union contract agreed upon, the Board unilaterally imposed the terms of its final, best offer upon the Deputy Sheriff’s Assn. Chair Bauer said this was the first time she could recall the county having to resort to such a measure.
The contract raises the minimum retirement age to 55.