After last week’s workshop with budget consultant Dr. Frank Benest with the Inyo Supervisors, some 55 participants met again the next day at the Fairgrounds for more talk about service collaboration and, as Benest put it, “re-design of services.” This talk comes in the face of a $2 million budget shortfall next year and a $4.5 million hole the following fiscal year. County Administrator Kevin Carunchio is optimistic in the face of those big numbers.
First, to questions about how much consultant Benest will cost, Carunchio said there is an initial agreement not to exceed $10,000. This includes the Board workshop and two full-day follow-up workshops plus phone consultations. After that, there may be a longer term contract but not until firm proposals for service changes and savings come out in May.
The second workshop with 55 participants included several agencies – Mono County, the City of Bishop, the Superintendent of Schools, Toiyabe, the Forest Service and BLM. Carunchio said they are all interested in collaborations that could re-design services and save money.
Amdist the talk of reorganizing government are fears of employee lay-offs. Carunchio said, “That’s just what we’re trying to avoid.” Why did he and the Board of Supervisors support expensive pay raises with no money to cover them? Carunchio said in tough times, “The A team must lead. We need to keep and retain talent. It’s not realistic to continue with 2008 salaries and expect better performance. We need to identify money for the long-term good.”
The group session at the Fairgrounds, Carunchio said, did reveal that all agencies have problems. He and others hope that working together will arrive at real answers. County officials are working on providing us with more information about which departments employ individuals who received nearly 30% pay raises as “equity adjustments”. These raises and the first cost of living adjustment in four years added up to the $1.8 million unpaid for next fiscal year.