Planning for the future was the focus of the first day of the San Benito County Board of Supervisors retreat on Feb. 14. The two-day event was held at the San Benito County Sheriff’s Office.
Supervisors were joined by over 30 people, including residents, county staff, elected officials such as San Juan Bautista Mayor Cesar Flores and Councilman John Freeman, and Hollister councilmembers Carol Lenoir, Rolan Resendiz, Honor Spencer and Marty Richman. Attendance dropped to about half by the end of the retreat.
In the session, supervisors and attendees discussed the county’s strengths and weaknesses. Strengths listed included staff, commitment of elected officials and Pinnacles National Park. Weaknesses included lack of resources, lack of vision, customer service and job retention, issues which have been brought up at supervisor meetings in the past year.
County Administrative Officer Ray Espinosa said the county faces challenges regarding attracting and retaining staff because surrounding counties can offer better salaries. He said San Benito County trains staff and then has to start all over again after an employee takes another position in Monterey, Santa Cruz or Santa Clara counties.
Retreat moderator Angela Antenore of Antenore and Associates said other reasons employees move on is the work environment and culture, while other attendees added job security, and being tired of “haters.”
“They might say it’s just the money, but there is more to it than that,” she said.
Antenore listed four goals for the board to consider: operational development, cross jurisdiction collaboration, planning for growth, and technology. Attendees added goals including community engagement, financial stability, health and public safety to the list. Antenore then suggested the county adopt a strategic plan covering all departments to help guide staff.
She also instructed the board and attendees to identify opportunities, threats or barriers facing San Benito County. Among the opportunities discussed were staff development, marketing, technology and the Hollister Municipal Airport. Barriers included lack of funds, turnover and limited infrastructure because of roads. Sheriff Darren Thompson added that spillover crimes from neighboring counties affect tourism and the overall image of San Benito County.
Antenore said info gathered at the retreat, along with recommendations, will be compiled and provided to Espinosa in about a week.
County staff is expected to formulate next steps based on the gathered data and present them to the supervisors in the future.