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$20K raise raises hackles

PUBLIC MEETING: Calaveras County Board of Supervisors, 9 a.m. regular meeting, Government Center, 891 Mountain Ranch Road, San Andreas.

An annual pay increase of nearly $20,000 for Calaveras County Public Works Director Tom Garcia may be finalized Tuesday during a meeting of the Board of Supervisors.

The Public Works Department budget reflects includes an increase from $117,832 annually for Garcia’s pay to $136,115.

Calaveras County Auditor-Controller Rebecca Callen has withheld the pay increase until a conflict regarding how it was implemented gets resolved. Callen said the board did not follow proper procedures with regards to state government code and California Public Employees’ Retirement System requirements in granting the raise.

Calaveras County Human Resources Director Francine Osborn noted in her staff report that “there have been allegations that the (raise) was illegal and that the salary grade revision was approved by the Board in a closed session in violation of the Brown Act” but that “this is not accurate.”

County administration has held that Garcia’s pay raise was included in the budget approved on Sept. 11 and that it did not stem from an unrelated closed-session performance review. The board approved changes to its employee position control list on Sept. 25 which included the raise.

“Included in this resolution was a salary grade revision for the Director of Public Works based on prior board direction at a closed session to process the salary grade revision as part of the final budget resolutions,” Osborn’s report stated. “While the salary grade revision was part of a regular agenda item, the agenda title for that item did not specifically state that the resolution  included this salary grade revision and there was limited public comment during the Board  discussion on the proposed resolution. Though allegations of impropriety are “erroneous,” Osborn said, due to that lack of specificity, the item is being brought back.

She also said that a statement for why the raise is being granted is not required by CalPERS but outlined accomplishments by Garcia during the last three years that include a seven-fold increase in the department’s budget through securing of numerous grants and 15 bridge rehabilitation projects that did not require local matching funds.

In other business, the board will review:

• a proposed draw of $4,960 from contingency funds to maintain annual membership fees in the Tuolumne-Stanislaus Integrated Regional Water Management Plan, requiring a four-fifths vote.

• a proposed draw of $6,919.40 from contingencies to implement a work plan developed by the Central Sierra Economic Development District joint powers agency, requiring a four-fifths vote.

• a two-year lease agreement for $800 a month to open a Sheriff’s Office substation in Valley Springs, adjacent to the town’s post office and Mar-Val shopping center on Highway 12.

• requests to add streetlights on the north end of Williams Street in Murphys and in the Valley Springs Lighting District.

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