County gets new top lawyer, treasurer

By Chris Caskey, The Union Democrat March 06, 2013 08:04 am

The Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved a contract for County Counsel Sarah Carrillo and opted for Shelley Piech to be the county’s next treasurer and tax collector.

The board unanimously voted on Carrillo’s contract, formalizing a decision the supervisors made two weeks ago to hire her as their main attorney. The board also set Piech’s official appointment for May 7, when she will replace retiring Treasurer/Tax Collector Del Hodges.

Piech is second in command under Hodges and has been in the position since 2009. Piech will serve out the rest of the term and will have to run for election to remain beyond 2015.

She said Tuesday that she and Hodges have discussed her possibly taking over for years, and she said she’s excited for the challenge. The county’s treasurer and tax collector oversees the banking deposits, manages investment pools and carries out other financial services for all county departments, schools and special districts. The position also oversees property tax billing for the same entities.

“It was a surprise the decision was made today,” she said.

The decision came after the board discussed options for replacing Hodges, who announced last month his plan to retire. While all five supervisors agreed Piech is the logical choice internally, Randy Hanvelt and Karl Rodefer wanted to send out a request for other applications as a show of due diligence.

“We owe it to the public to do that,” Hanvelt said, later adding that Piech “clearly meets all the qualifications.”

According to a state database for public employee compensation, Hodges was paid about $120,000 in total wages in 2011.

Carrillo was named the next county counsel after a months-long search process to replace Gregory Oliver. County leaders accepted applications and interviewed candidates before choosing Carrillo, who was also next in line in the department.

Her four-year contract includes a base salary of $110,891 annually with eligibility for increases based on performance evaluations. It begins March 13.

A Tuolumne County native, Carrillo has worked for the county for eight years, and has served as acting counsel when Oliver has not been in the office. She has handled work for the Board of Supervisors, as well as Sheriff’s Office, Grand Jury, Department of Social Services and other agencies within the county.

As county counsel, she will act as top legal adviser and representation for the board and county government, serving directly under the board. She will also oversee the office staff, which currently includes two deputy attorneys and one assistant, and will work on the department budget.

“It’s my hometown, so it means alot to me,” she said.