Letter to District 3 Constituents: Rain, Budgets and Cleanup (column) • The Mendocino Voice | Mendocino County, CAThe Mendocino Voice
The following is a letter to the editor submitted by Mendocino County District 3 Supervisor John Haschak, posted here as a column, in which he updates his constituents. We encourage other supervisors to submit letters – we will gladly publish them. You can see Haschak’s previous letters to his constituents here. The opinions expressed in this letter are those of the author and not those of The Mendocino Voice.
The rain is falling as I write! The long-awaited first rains of the season and the drop in temperatures give the feeling that everything is going to be fine. It’s a much-needed respite from fire season and heat waves. The Walker Fire was way too close to my house and the unprecedented temperatures were certainly worrying. Of course the fire season is not over yet and the drought persists until a lot more rain arrives but it feels good.
Working together can lead to important actions. Case in point: CalTrans’s Clean California program, in conjunction with the county, Round Valley Area City Advisory Council, Round Valley Indian Tribes, and Willits Solid Waste, offered six days of free landfills in Covelo. It was a beautiful sight of people cleaning up their homes and lands. I helped direct traffic as the line of vehicles started two hours before the transfer station opened. Volunteers cleared creek beds and tribes offered help to elders who needed help removing some of the loose items from their properties. Overall, the turnout far exceeded CalTrans’s expectations, and everyone who worked together made their community a better place to live.
Budget Part 2:
Systems and processes generally get things done in an open, transparent and appropriate way. When we don’t have the right systems and processes in place, things can get out of hand quickly. This seems to be the case with county finances. When the Supervisory Board (4 to 1 with me as the dissenting vote) voted to combine the functions of Treasurer/Tax Collector and Auditor/Controller against the advice of office holders, there was very little information on the advantages of this grouping. We now see the predicted negative effects and the overwhelming workflow placed on the shoulders of an elected official are daunting.
Chamise Cubbison was elected as the new Auditor/Comptroller/Treasurer/Collector of Taxes (ACTT). She struggles to wrap up the duties of auditor while taking on the additional duties of treasurer/tax collector. Ms Cubbison and former Treasurer/Tax Collector Shari Schapmire warned against this exact event. The board is frustrated that the financial statements are not produced in a timely manner. The public tries to understand what is happening.
On September 13, we had a BOS meeting to discuss what the Council needed for reporting and what Ms Cubbison would need in terms of support, staff and resources to make it happen. Instead of efficiencies and streamlining, we are seeing a $25,000 increase in ACTT salary due to increased responsibilities, the need for more staff and resources, and the consolidation of responsibilities and supervision in one person. Since this is what the Council has decided, we must provide the personnel and the resources necessary to make it work.
Some of the issues raised will fall to the ad hoc budget committee, others to the information services and the executive office will take over certain responsibilities such as payroll. The County budget is a known entity. The county has cash and reserves, but not having up-to-date knowledge of revenues and expenses throughout the year makes it difficult to manage county government and negotiate in good faith. If we don’t have a clear idea of what our finances look like and what the projections are, it limits our ability to sign ongoing contracts with bargaining units.
We must do better for the people of Mendocino County and the staff who work as public servants.
I am available at [email protected] or 707-972-4214.