Towns evaluate county agreement
Douglas County’s towns – Gardnerville, Genoa and Minden – may be required to operate their own personnel departments if board members reject an interlocal agreement to standardize employment practices with county operations.
County Manager Dan Holler, Deputy District Attorney Brian Chally and Personnel Supervisor Sheila Dugan met Wednesday night with representatives of the three towns to discuss the proposed agreement.
Town employees are now hired by the towns, but paid by the county. Under the new agreement, the towns would adopt and comply with the county personnel ordinance, policies and procedures, compensation and benefits plan instead of operating under individual plans.
Town board members expressed concern that the county would start charging for services at the end of the five-year agreement.
“My concern is that five years down the road, the county comes back and says, ‘This will cost you $100,000 a year,'” said Ross Chichester, Minden town board member.
Chichester pointed out all the functions Minden performs such as parks and street maintenance, garbage collection and snow removal at no cost to the county.
“We provide the CVIC Hall at no cost for county functions. We appropriated $20,000 to the Carson Valley Water Authority to fight the challenge to the Carson River water, we appropriated $50,000 for the county flood mitigation plan which didn’t come through. We get no gas tax and no room tax.”
Chichester argued against charging the towns because he said they provide all individual services themselves or are ordered by state law to use county departments.
For example, even though Minden pays employees through town funds, checks must be issued by the county. Under state law, the towns are not allowed to sign their own checks or pay their own bills.
Holler said the county was trying to eliminate the potential liability of operating four or five different personnel plans.
“Employees call us for information and we might give out wrong answers because we don’t know how it’s managed. Our concern is that if you do something that isn’t correct, we don’t want the liability,” Holler said. “If Gardnerville wants to go one way and Minden the other, it becomes a nightmare.”
Gardnerville town counsel Michael Rowe asked Chally if county commissioners could order the towns to sign the ordinance.
“We haven’t looked at that issue,” Chally said.
Holler said the county would be revising the personnel ordinance in August, and the towns would be included in the process.
“What’s wrong with putting our own personnel ordinance into compliance and putting this thing in the back drawer?” asked Tom Cook, Gardnerville Town Board member. “I’m afraid you’re going to come back and say, ‘We’re going to charge you half a million dollars for these services.'”
Chally said the goal of the document was to formalize services between Douglas County and the towns.
The agreement also gives Holler the authority to “implement, administer, renew and terminate this contract” on behalf of the county.
“If Dan Holler were serving as county manager in perpetuity, I would have no comment,” said George Keele, town counsel for Minden. “My concern is there ought to be a provision to give employees the ability to appeal the the Board of County Commissioners.”
Board members also sought assurance that their workers would remain town employees and that if there were layoffs at the county, the towns would be exempt if they had adequate funding.
“If you have separate funding, there is no need for layoffs,” Chally said.
Town employees also would not be part of county bargaining units.
The town representatives said they would be reviewing the agreement at their June board meetings.