School district offers buildings to county Human Services Department
August 19, 2009
El Dorado County will no longer operate its Human Services Department out of the offices on Silver Dollar Avenue because of budget reductions.
As a result, the county is looking at moving 16 of the department’s 52 South Shore staff members to Placerville, while others will move to county offices in the El Dorado Center in South Lake Tahoe.
To keep all the Human Services workers at the South Shore, the Lake Tahoe Unified School District offered to give the county three years free rent to use some of the portables at the Al Tahoe Learning Center, LTUSD spokeswoman Angie Keil said.
County officials met with the district last week to review the site, Keil said. The county is assessing the offer, she added.
“It’s a very generous offer, and a nice space,” Human Services Department Director Daniel Nielson said. “But it’s also a matter of cost and where that money comes from.”
It would cost the county at least $60,000 to move into the portables, Nielson said. The cost comes from setting up computer networks, phone lines, security and utilities, he added.
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Some county employees are already moving into the El Dorado Center, which costs about $4,500 because the computer system is already set up, Nielson said.
Sixteen employees have been notified about a possible relocation to the Placerville office, Nielson said.
Some people are unhappy about that possibility.
“People can’t be served from Placerville,” said Sharyn Halsey, retired eligibility supervisor. “It doesn’t serve the clients.”
At the July 28 El Dorado County Board of Supervisors meeting, county staff recommended the relocation of 33 Human Services Department employees from South Lake Tahoe to Placerville.
By terminating the lease at the Silver Dollar location, the county will save $382,500 for the 2009-10 fiscal year, and $510,000 annually thereafter, according to the chief administrative office report.
The Board of Supervisors decided to postpone the relocation so staff could seek all possible alternatives for relocating staff and return to the board at the Aug. 24 workshop.
The supervisors also voted at the July meeting to terminate the leases at the Silver Dollar locations effective Sept. 30, and for some employees to be moved into the El Dorado Center in South Lake Tahoe.
Other solutions suggested by staff, such as sharing desk space and adjusting work hours, are also being assessed, Nielson said.
If the county moves employees to Placerville, Halsey worries the positions might not come back. “You can’t reduce the need,” Halsey said. “People aren’t going to stop coming to the office.”
With all the layoffs that have occurred in the community, these services are needed more than ever, Halsey said. Many of the people walking in the office have never needed help before, she added.
Many of the forms clients have to fill out are confusing, especially if English isn’t their first language, Halsey said. Bilingual staff members are available to help them with the forms.
Nielson said all child welfare positions will be kept in South Lake Tahoe, and the employees being transferred to the Placerville office are eligibility workers.
“Our goal is to keep the service level the same, and move as few people to Placerville as possible,” Nielson said.
County employees have high case loads as is, and Nielson said he doesn’t want to increase their workload.
Nielson plans to update the Board of Supervisors on Aug. 24 on alternatives for relocating employees.