This article was contributed by Hollister resident, Marty Richman.
When a majority of the San Benito County Board of Supervisors voted themselves a greedy 55 percent pay raise because they were “so busy” and “short staffed”, it triggered a well-deserved uproar and pushback from the public and employees that it forced them to abandon the idea.
One reason was that the Board had been constantly complaining about the lack of financial resources; they even used that argument as justification for maintaining non-competitive salaries with other regional county employers. Another was their standard excuse for problems and/or for being late included that the county “did not have the right people” or “did not have enough staff.”
Given those issues, it was surprising that they could so easily find the substantial funding it would have taken to pay their salary increases and associated retirement benefits; more surprising still is that since then the county has still not adopted a long-term workable strategy to deal with its perpetual staffing issues.
Short staffing and high turnover has a price that is paid for by county residents. The tremendous cost is hidden in delays, missed opportunities, and bad decisions; we pay them even if we can’t readily see them.
Yes, the Board is responsive to complaints; they put on their Fireman’s hats and run to the flaming problem to pour water on it, then off they go to next fire (problem) and so on. However, without adequate staffing they can never put in the protection and prevention and the same problems just come back with a different paint job. How many times have they “fixed” the Community Services Area (CSA) accountability? I’ve stopped counting. Will they ever “fix” their expensive blunder of the landfill contract that’s wrecking our roads or the empty resource recovery park?
The programs they do put in seldom advance, they just await another emergency visit. I believe them when they say they are critically understaffed, but obviously they don’t believe their own rhetoric because they don’t plan to do anything about it.
As a resident you may be flattered if or when they get around to dealing with your problem; however, if the systems do not go in you can be assured the problem will be back for you or someone else at the worst possible time.
Don’t be fooled by the Potemkin village or the Blazing Saddles replica of Rock Ridge, sooner or later it will all catch up with us. If we’re still having serious problems moving ahead when times are good just think about the impact when times are bad.
The Board needs to stop looking backwards and start looking to the future.