Pink slips from county handed to at least two Tahoe employees |

Pink slips from county handed to at least two Tahoe employees

Eric Laughlin / The Mountain Democrat
and Jeff Munson

Fifteen county employees, including at least two from South Lake Tahoe, have gotten their pink slips as a result of an emergency effort by the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors to balance the 2008-09 county budget.

In a 4-1 vote Tuesday, the board approved one of two layoff proposals to trim down the Department of Development Services, a division that fell 50 percent below revenue projections in the first quarter.

Of the two plans considered, the one chosen results in fewer layoffs. The other, which was recommended by the Chief Administrative Office, would have put 23 people out of work but would have relied less on the county’s general contingency fund to balance the budget.

Development Services positions that were eliminated include the two Placerville and South Shore branch manager spots, as well as counter staff and administrative support positions at both branches, according to a Board of Supervisors report. The number of positions cut in the department actually is 17, but two were vacant. Even Development Services employees who are not laid off will be affected, as the measure forces them each to take 10 unpaid days off during the budget year.

There are seven employees at the Development Services Lake Tahoe office, including Bob Greene, the branch manager. Thirty-day notices went to at least two employees: a senior development technician and a development aide.

When contacted by the Tribune on Thursday, both employees confirmed they had received the notices but declined to comment further.

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Employees who faced layoffs packed the supervisor’s chambers in Placerville on Tuesday. Supervisor Rusty Dupray, who voted for the proposal, said, “You know how difficult it is to sit up here and look at all these faces, but we’ve got to do something. We can no longer be an ostrich with its head in the sand.”

Dupray, when later responding to Supervisor Jack Sweeney’s question of how the permit-seeking public will potentially be affected by cuts in the department, said, “I’d rather wait another month for a permit than another 10 to 15 minutes for a fire engine.”

Sweeney, Dupray, Norma Santiago and Ron Briggs all eventually voted for the measure. Helen Baumann was the sole dissenting voice.

The problems in Development Services were introduced to the board just two weeks after it had passed its annual operating budget. It was then that Chief Administrative Officer Gayle Erbe-Hamlin reported that fewer permit applications in the first quarter had led to a projected $2 million deficiency in the department.

County Auditor-Controller Joe Harn has blamed Development Services and the CAO’s office for not bringing up the shortfall months before the budget was passed in September, since he said it was clear permits were down as early as July.