Alpine County struggling to enter the 21st century
March 26, 2007
Little Alpine County is wrestling with ways to cope with increasing demands on the meager resources that the board of supervisors currently manages.
There are some parallels with Douglas County of 30 to 35 years ago.
We are finding the need to address current issues and come closer to the 21st century.
Trying to strike a balance between what our residents, taxpayers, employees and visitors need, deserve and want, the board of supervisors is trying to find a way to fund new positions to make fire service and emergency medical services better, bring cohesiveness to county administration and coordinate information technology countywide.
Finding a way to fund any or all of these positions will present a real challenge during our budget process.
Providing emergency services is part of the basic government services we owe our citizens and is what they expect. In addition, since our economy is basically tourist based, our visitors represent a large portion of our calls for service. Presently, our fire departments on the east side of the county, are all volunteers.
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Our emergency medical technicians are also volunteers with a coordinator that receives a small monthly stipend.
The Alpine County Fire Safe Council and the Woodfords Fire Department have recommended that Alpine county hire a paid fire chief that will handle things like recruiting, training, maintenance, record keeping, coordination between other county fire departments, budgeting, keeping the board of supervisors apprised of fire department status, possibly combine fire and emergency medical services, working toward reducing our fire insurance rating thereby reducing fire insurance premiums and other duties the board determines.
One of the large issues facing Alpine County now is the inability to recruit people for all the programs where we rely on volunteers. The board will look at ways to help in this process. If any Alpiners reading this have the desire to help your communities by volunteering for the fire departments and/or emergency medical services, please contact me at 694-2287, leave a message at county administration and I will get back to you with information on how to join-up.
The board is also looking at funding and establishing the position of county administrative officer.
The workload associated with this position will mean the board of supervisors will be able to concentrate more on the policy aspect of these elected positions instead of the day to day operations of the county and its departments.
Alpine County is one of only two of California’s 58 counties that does not have an administrative officer.
As county government gets more complex, having a person at the focal point of important issues becomes more and more important.
The complexity of coordinating programs, many of which are funded by state and federal sources, requires professional leadership.
In this aspect, Alpine County has the same needs as other counties in California.
Typically, in California, an administrative officer may handle duties such as personnel/human resources, budgets in coordination with the auditor and department heads, grant administration, labor negotiations, sometimes in conjunction with a contract negotiator, risk management, purchasing and coordination of appointed department heads.
The administrative officer works closely with county counsel. In addition to the financial considerations, the administrative officer position will be a major policy decision for the board of supervisors.
If the position comes to pass, this person may be asked to help find someone to help Alpine County improve information technology. Currently, information technology is kind of hit and miss in Alpine County.
Different departments hire different consultants to address their own needs.
All of our departments have the need for similar types of information such as budgets, purchasing, inventories, intercommunication between departments and other needs.
We are striving to get a person that can gather all the county departments together in their computer hardware, software and communication needs. None of these positions will be easy to fund or fill but what better place to face the challenges before us and to ease us through the growing pains.
— Skip Veatch is chairman of Alpine County Board of Supervisors, former sheriff, and a 34-year resident of Alpine County. He is filling in for Gina Gigli while she is on vacation.