• Thu. Dec 8th, 2022

Butte County grapples with staffing shortages as it passes new budget – Chico Enterprise-Record

ByDebra J. Aguilar

Jun 29, 2022

OROVILLE — Butte County is struggling with its staffing.

Butte County Chief Administrative Officer Andy Pickett said the county, as seen in the newly passed 2022/2023 fiscal year budget, lost 500 positions across all of its departments.

Pickett presented the recommended budget to the board on Tuesday in what he called “a tale of two budgets.” The first is the one he presented, which takes into account the compensation and benefits of all vacant positions, and another modified one which should be presented to the board at a subsequent meeting which will take into account negotiations with the units of negotiation.

Pickett provided a list of reasons why the county fell into such shortfalls.

A large number of employees retired early and there weren’t enough potential workers to fill the seat, which means the county is competing with other municipalities for hiring, Pickett said. . The county also lost several people after the campfire, and the COVID-19 pandemic also played a significant role in the loss of employees.

In response, Pickett is looking to raise salaries to be more competitive.

“During this process, I’ve often been asked how we can afford to do this in times like these and honestly, that’s a legitimate question,” Pickett said. “That’s a good question, but it’s a straight answer. We simply cannot afford not to. We are a service organization and services are provided by staff. And when we have uncompetitive salaries, we find it difficult to recruit and retain staff. When we don’t have staff, we can’t provide services and do exactly what we exist to do.

To do that, Pickett said the county would cut vacancies, cut various expenses, try to increase revenue and use one-time dollars tactically.

Pickett said the county is also working to implement Workday and so far about a third of county staff have gone ahead with the project.

“I’ll just say it’s been tough,” Pickett said. “A lot of people are working very hard to put this system in place. And the organization as a whole is experiencing growing pains as we learn to use this system. »

The budget

The Butte County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed Pickett’s recommended $780.2 million budget.

According to Pickett’s presentation, the new budget represents a 3.8% increase over last year with a net increase of four positions. The general fund budget will be $237 million with an estimated balance of $27.2 million. In addition, there will be $16 million for the general reserve and $14 million for the general fund contingency goal.

Broken down, the budget looks like this:

  • General Fund: $237 million
  • Special operating funds: $432.5 million
  • Special non-operating funds: $32 million
  • Funding for capital projects: $41.2 million
  • Debt Service Fund: $5.8 million
  • Internal Services Fund: $13.8 million
  • Corporate fund (Neal Road Recycling and Waste Facility): $15.5 million
  • Special districts: $2.4 million

After the presentation was over, some department heads urged the board to approve more competitive pay rates. Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey issued a statement about the workload his department is facing due to understaffing.

“The low wages that have been going on for a number of years that have affected the county as a whole have certainly had an impact on your criminal justice system,” Ramsey said. “This has affected the recruitment and retention of peace officers and assistant district attorneys.”

Ramsey said assistant district attorneys previously carried out a caseload of about 100 cases, but now have about 250.

Other departments such as the assessor’s office and the probation office also struggled with understaffing.

The budget amendments will be presented to council at future meetings as the county continues to make salary and position adjustments.

The Butte County Board of Supervisors typically meets at 9 a.m. on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month in its chambers located at 25 County Center Drive, Suite 205 in Oroville. Meetings are free and open to the public.