Complexities of the Inyo County Water Department

Inyo County government office space switches continue to attract attention. First – news that the powers-that-be wanted the Inyo County Water Department staff to relocate to a county-owned building in Independence to save money for the budget-strapped local government. Letters written between county administration and the employees' union reveal all is not on the same page.

At the end of January, employees' union officials sent a letter to Inyo County Administrator Kevin Carunchio. The letter asks for square footage and costs to move the Water Department, to move offices out of Cottonwood Plaza, floor plans, and documents on closed sessions of the Board of Supervisors.

In a response letter, Administrator Carunchio says that most of the employee requests do not have anything to do with the move impacting employees. He declined to provide them with the information.

So, when did the Supervisors make the decision to move the Water Department? When asked this, County Counsel Paul Bruce said that before the County can undertake a departmental move, the Superviosrs have obligations to employee bargaining units and must give instructions, in a closed session, to meet and confer with workers. CAO Carunchio said only that he was given direction to start the meet and confer process with employees impacted. As for the letter he wrote to the workers' union, Carunchio said he could not comment on labor negotiations.

Officials seem to say that the decision to move the Water Department was part of an employee negotiation and dealt with in closed session.

Meanwhile, Inyo County government now has more space options. Leases were okayed for the Water Department building on May St. and for what was Belle Vous on Line St. Carunchio said the County will consider the alternatives and space needs with a final determination at the end of March.

Renovations – painting and carpeting – are underway at what was the County Office of Education in Independence, apparently now destined to be the Water Department.

 
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