Saturday, October 1, 2022
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3rd District Supervisor John Haschak on Mendo’s Budget Showdown— ‘Costs Have Increased and Revenues are Flat’

The following is a monthly letter written by Mendocino County’s 3rd District Supervisor John Haschak to constituents:


JohnHaschakFeatured
[Picture provided by Supervisor Haschak]

The County Budget has been the center of most discussions. People have asked me many questions. Are we really as broke as reported? How did this happen when we were supposedly flush with reserves? Why can’t the County hire more staff or at least pay the current staff decently? How did we end up with a $7 million deficit for the health care plan? What is happening with the combined Treasurer/Tax Collector/Auditor Controller position? What is the Board of Supervisors doing about this mess?

The County has had historic windfalls in the past year. We had $9 million from CARES funds, American Rescue Plan Act funds of $16.8 million, PG&E settlement money of $22.6 million. We were able to cover costs during the Covid epidemic, fund many projects that have been needed for recovery from the devastating fires and better prepare for future events. 

According to the money people, the budget is bleak. There is little spare money. Reserves can’t be used for ongoing costs. While sales taxes, property taxes, and Transient Occupancy Taxes went up slightly, cannabis taxes went down by over $3 million. Basically, costs have increased and revenues are flat.

Since I got on the Board, the Board was intentional in trying to get County workers up to market rate with comparable counties. This was a three-year process. We did get most positions close to the market rate for salaries and when adding in benefits, our County employees were comparable. Yet with inflation as high as it has been and unemployment levels at their lowest in 50 years, it is difficult to attract employees for all positions in the County. Whether it is a planner, jailer, road worker, or Human Resources director, the qualified applicants are hard to come by. We certainly don’t want to lose any of the employees we have.  

The County’s health plan is self-funded. Costs rise due to the experiences and expenses of our employees. Medical costs in Mendocino County are high. The health plan had deficits of $3.6 and $4.0 million dollars in the last two years. This was not fully reported until a few months ago.

The combined positions of Auditor/Controller/Treasurer/Tax Collector (ACTTC) was not recommended by the people in those offices. I voted against it but the BOS passed it. So the question is how do we make it work now that that is the plan. The Board appointed Chamise Cubbison to the position since she was elected in the June election though normally she wouldn’t take charge until January. There have been staffing issues, problems with technology, loss of institutional knowledge, and lack of time for a complete review of how to structure the combined offices. What I don’t want to see is greater costs, another level of administration, and loss of accountability and oversight.

I am proposing that we have a special Board meeting to work out these issues of communication and differing books. If we all aren’t on the same page, then we have real problems and the public deserves better. The Board needs to sit down with the Executive Office staff and ACTTC to figure out where we are financially, how we got here, and what is the path forward.  

Thank you again for your confidence in me and please reach out to me at haschakj@mendocinocounty.org or 707-972-4214.

John

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6 COMMENTS

  1. Why doesn’t the County outsource or consolidate certain administrative positions with near-by Counties? Mendo has just 87,110 residents with Ukiah populated with just 16,609. That’s a LOT smaller than many cities.

    The State mandates certain positions like a 5 person BoS (which doesn’t need to be paid as full-timers), Sheriff (which makes sense) and some other elected positions. But Information Tech, Planning and Building, Finance, etc. staff could be outsourced or provided by arrangement with other Counties or private organizations.

    • County wages are already discounted from most job market wages. Benefits are over stated if most of the county staff leaves/quit before they hit five years. Turnover is high enough to make most of the benefits less effective at keeping people. Many staffers here already suffer from over exhaustion and overt dysfunctionality in the personnel and technology. Unqualified people get promoted because they are the only ones applying or last man/woman standing. Accountability is nonexistent for the same reason. The county needs new blood / outside resources or else this place will necrotize fairly quickly if it already hasn’t fully done so yet. More housing in and around the city centers of Mendocino County would help bring new tax revenue into the county along with new knowledge and employees this county really needs.

  2. I see the county has bought a bunch of new cars It’s been a lot of money down there Live Oak apartments I heard $500 per toilet $30,000 gazebo no wonder they’re broke. What’s your food and they bought the old hospital down there on Whitmore Lane

  3. Revenue is flat because 10% of property owners are not assessed and that’s the fault of the assessor and the board for not pushing it and it will be years before that 10% gets assessed so don’t give me this baloney about not having enough money you just aren’t going out there to get it you’re giving property owners a free ride so fess up to your incompetence

  4. We don’t need the same old story about revenue being flat when you 1) want to increase taxes every year and 2) failed to hire enough assessors to appraise the 10% of county properties that pay no property tax because no one looked a google map to see if a house was on them.

    You allowed taxes to rise when the government employees got the Board of Sups to approve two bond issues for benefits and retirement which can never be repaid along with 500 Million in unfunded retirement debt. this isn’t a county. it is the mafia.

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MendoFever Staff
MendoFever Staff
Editor's Note: Whenever an article's byline reads "MendoFever Staff", the contents of that article were not composed by any of our reporters. Types of writing that will be attributed to "MendoFever Staff" include press releases, letters to the editor, op-eds, obituaries— essentially writing that is not produced by a reporter.

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