Inyo Supervisors look to consultant to fix shortfall

This year, the Inyo Supervisors approved employee raises that will cost $1.8 million more next fiscal year and $4.5 million more the following year. Officials made these decisions with no revenue to back it up. Now, the Board of Supervisors looks to a consultant for answers.

County Administrator Kevin Carunchio found a consultant with a long history in local government management and a method to look for what he calls “creative budget solutions.” Carunchio introduced Dr. Frank Benest and said he would conduct workshops with department heads and other agencies on Wednesday. Carunchio pointed to the millions in budget shortfalls and said there will not be tax revenue increases to close the gap. He said, “This is the staggering face of reality.”

inyo_courthouse1.jpgCarunchio told the Board that Inyo County has long had a “structural deficit” and had balanced its budgets from money left over from the previous year. He called it a “manageable structural deficit.” Carunchio said when you add on the $1.8 million and $4.5 million shortfalls, “It’s insurmountable. The picture is not real pretty,” he said.

That’s when he introduced Frank Benest who spoke about “service re-design” to deal with budget problems. He advised the Board to “get out in front of service cutbacks. This can have terrible consequences.” He also said that “Cutting at the margins is not enough to forestall economic meltdown.”

Benest proceeded to explain that through collaborations and creative thinking, Inyo County and other agencies could “re-design services.” He said Inyo County has a lot of assets and needs to figure out how to leverage them with partners. Three members of the Bishop City Council attended the meeting. Councilman Dave Stottlemyre said Inyo County is not the only one with structural deficits. He said it’s happening nationwide, and the Bishop City Council now holds budget meetings every month. He said Bishop is willing to collaborate with Inyo County.

Benest said Inyo already has some creative ideas like the Jail Work-Release Program. He said through workshops with department heads and other organizations, officials will come up with service re-designs and final proposals for early May. Benest said the goal is to save $1.5 million next fiscal year and $3 million the following year.

The three Supervisors present – Arcularius, Kingsley and Griffiths – said they support the process. Privately, a number of County employees say they feel like officials are putting the budget shortfall off on rank and file workers’ cost of living increase while people at the top enjoy recent and large pay raises. The fear of lay-offs looms large at the Inyo Courthouse.

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34 Responses to Inyo Supervisors look to consultant to fix shortfall

  1. Philip Anaya December 20, 2013 at 11:17 pm #

    People with open eyes have vision. People with open hearts like you Ignacio envision.We need more of both in this world We need leaders with open eyes and open hearts

    • mongo the idiot December 21, 2013 at 1:35 pm #

      Thank you both!
      What a wonderful gift.
      I love clicking on the picture and seeing it full size! I have been longing for full size versions for months, most all the images of the week on SW are incredible. I think it would be great to have the image of the week thread. I want to talk about what I see and listen to what others see so I can learn. I want to fully appreciate this marvelous gift and not be blinded by the mundane familiarity of day to day life.
      Have you guys looked at the Inde’ web cam? At night they put up a best of image that is generally mind blowing! They have some great snow shots, sunrises, and an awesome Red Tail Hawk image.
      Check it out!

    • mongo the idiot December 21, 2013 at 4:40 pm #

      AWESOME LINK Philip!

  2. ferdinand lopez December 19, 2013 at 12:13 pm #

    off with their heads!

    • mongo the idiot December 19, 2013 at 8:53 pm #

      Ferdinand of Lopez,
      Give them raises and print more money!
      Produce nothing and import everything!
      Arrest more travelers and impose fines!
      Spare no expense for the Roman Revival shrine of our In-yo empire sits proudly in Independence, California! (oh my God! can you believe they built that there and now want to abandon it?)
      Come all to ye Fruitcake Colosseum where the true believers will perish in front of spiked cake as they labor for counties distant!
      Turn up the TV and divert your complaint to the realistic derailment of make believe!
      What was this thread about anyway???
      Stupid is better…

      • mongo the idiot December 20, 2013 at 9:28 am #

        The real news is that you can click on “Image of the Week” to make it go full screen.
        That little picture of the frozen Aspen is pretty amazing full size.

        • Philip Anaya December 20, 2013 at 10:45 am #

          Amazing Ignacio, How about a Hubble or a Gaia Space telescope to see all the planets around all those droplets. Amazing how long the effect remains decades after puttting down the bong

          • mongo the idiot December 20, 2013 at 12:08 pm #

            I think image of the week should get posted in the side bar as well as in a thread so we can discus it.
            When I look at the image I see what you see PA. I think about all the microscopic life and geometric mineral trapped in that ice. I imagine the veins and cells of the leaf, tiny creatures feeding. To me its a gemstone like Beryl or Amber, just as precious and beautiful, yet perishable. Imagine the implication of organic selective absorption causing the color to change. Imagine natures pallet as greens, reds, and yellows mix to perfection. How is it possible, that such beauty be contained in such a small space.

        • Beautiful! December 20, 2013 at 8:34 pm #

          Yea Mongo! Thank you for the tip on the picture! So beautiful! Brings to mind my newest favorite quote, “How much beauty can you handle?” And thank you for taking such a positive spin when going way off topic from the article. So refreshing. Love your idea about being able to comment on the Image of the Week. I think that would be a good way to bring more positive and uplifting comments to the forum.
          Future possibility Benett?
          May you all have a Blessed Solstice!

  3. Richard December 19, 2013 at 8:58 am #

    First of all, the words ‘creative’ and ‘budget’ don’t belong in the same sentence. The fact is the budget should be the least creative item of all within the county.

    Any ‘creative’ approach is either patently dishonest, or shifts current obligations into the future, both very poor choices. The CAO seems to be taking an honest approach if we can believe what he says in public, but evidently the Board of Supervisors (past or present) isn’t listening. Union negotiators usually outsmart county negotiators on the other side of the table. This, of course, can be expected since the county negotiators also have a dog in the fight.

    The only solution is to either raise taxes, or spend less, and raising taxes is pretty much off the table. So, it’s the responsibility of the Supervisors, with guidance from the CAO, to figure out how to spend less. And, with regard to pay and benefits which seems to be the immediate focus, they must be damn sure both are equal to their private sector constituency. If the churn among county employees is less, or far less, than the private sector constituency, the compensation is too high.

  4. Citizen December 19, 2013 at 7:12 am #

    How irresponsible! So the people will lose services because of big raises. The people deserve to know who got those raises. And maybe the PEOPLE should be deciding what are priorities if the county administration is putting enrichment before public service.

    • Bob Loblaw December 20, 2013 at 8:32 am #

      Much as it pains me to rain on your parade Citizen, but less than 2 percent isn’t a “big raise”. In fact, if said employee makes $50,000 a year, that’s a raise of about $17 a week. While 4.5% is better, how long has it been since these employees had a raise in the past. Honestly, the County has larger concerns. And If you don’t live in Inyo County, kindly turn the volume down on your rhetoric.

      • The Emperor December 20, 2013 at 7:03 pm #

        The COLA for the rank and file employees weren’t the “big raises”. Ask some questions Mr. Loblaw. I did. There were some employees that were “reclassed” and received 27% raises. Because those folks were already making top dollar , that equals a lot more that $17 per week. You’ll pay for all of this malarkey so you may as well know the truth. None of this should have happened when anybody with 1/2 a brain knows that tax revenue is going down big time from Coso Geothermal and health insurance costs are going up. Blame the Supervisors or the CAO? What good does that do now? We are already on the wrong course thanks to the fact nobody spoke the truth about any of this. The CAO’s solution was to hire (at taxpayer’s expense) a consultant to tell people how to “collaborate” and “consolidate”. Look forward to decreased services — and a big new County Building in Bishop.

        • Benett Kessler December 20, 2013 at 7:06 pm #

          Sierra Wave has asked for more information on all of this. Stay tuned.
          Benett Kessler

  5. Free Consultant December 18, 2013 at 11:08 am #

    Don’t spend more than you take in.

    Expenditures should not exceed revenue.

    • upthecreek December 18, 2013 at 10:48 pm #

      With the current public pension system and unfunded liabilities , it will never be fixed.

      Govt gone WILD..
      just keep spending money you will never have

      • Trouble December 19, 2013 at 8:20 am #

        Taking away peoples pensions and medical benefits is not going to help anyone. God forbid the top 5% really pay taxes.

  6. Sunoma Logathain December 18, 2013 at 10:29 am #

    Where and when is that workshop? I would like to go. My tax dollars are helping to pay for Mr. Benest’s consulting services unless he is doing it for free.

    • Benett Kessler December 18, 2013 at 10:47 am #

      I was told it’s at the fairgrounds. Confirmed – Talman Pavillion today.

      • Desert Tortoise December 18, 2013 at 11:12 am #

        The fairgrounds are an appropriate place for a dog and pony show. Just saying ………….

        • Joe December 18, 2013 at 5:46 pm #

          Hey DT- you claim to live in Ridgecrest or Lancaster so why do you feel it necessary to put your plug into everything up here? Do you feel you are contributing something help to Inyo County citizens or simply exercising your 1st Amendment rights? Just curious because I find it tiresome.

          • Waxlips December 19, 2013 at 8:15 am #

            I was wondering the same thing.

          • Desert Tortoise December 19, 2013 at 10:21 am #

            The Eastern Sierra extends south to Red Rock Canyon and this region is my home. I have rental properties south in the Antelope Valley and in the Bay Area. I am also involved in local government as a city council committee member and offer my opinions. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me. Last night I left a couple of Kern County officials, a supervisor and their Director of Planning mortified with my criticisms of the Fremont Valley so-called preservation project. I called Ms. Oviatt a liar in all but the words and made a mockery of some of her assertions.

            Maybe you should ask the same of Mongo since we know he is an LA resident. What is his connection? At least I am looking at the eastern Sierra Nevada mountains when I stand in my yard. It is a very restful sight, one that I miss whenever I have to go to the east coast for work.

  7. Sunoma Logathain December 18, 2013 at 9:30 am #

    Why did anybody get big raises in the face of decreased tax revenues and projected budget shortfalls? None of this makes sense. Who is the budget officer and why wasn’t the fact of the budget shortfalls made public prior to enacting salary increases? Seems like a budget officer’s job is to forecast these things.
    It always falls on the taxpayers when bad decisions are made. Don’t forget who ultimately pays for this. And, how much did it cost to bring Frank Benest here? Bet he isn’t a local.
    And the county is talking about taking on more debt with constructing a big County building in Bishop. Really?

  8. Desert Tortoise December 18, 2013 at 9:05 am #

    This is a constant source of revulsion for me. We elect people to represent us and to solve problems, expecting them to be knowledgeable enough to do the job. But the reality appears to be that most of the people elected lack the intellect to solve problems and have to lean on “consultants” overflowing with contemporary buzzwords like “get out in front”, “creative thinking”, “leverage”, “partners” and “workshops” and who charge good money for their yak-yak. How about the supes rolling up their sleeves and doing the work themselves? Is this too much to expect of our elected officials? If they lack the intellect to manage a budget, why are they even elected to office.

    • Watchdog December 18, 2013 at 12:03 pm #

      Then there are the Mono supervisors who recently reduced every department head’s salary but greedily failed to take a cut in their own generous part-time salaries.

      • Elected hypocrites December 19, 2013 at 10:17 am #

        The Mono County Supervisors make almost $50,000 a year plus car allowance, etc. Not bad for a part-time position, don’t you think? The nerve of them to insist everyone but themselves is making too much money.

        • Philip Anaya December 20, 2013 at 8:36 pm #

          Watch Dog and Elected Hippos.
          Although you both clearly state Mono Supervisors I was confused for a time and was ill at the thought that Inyo Sups were the attention of your posts. Both Mono and Inyo Counties you might agree have a minute number of registered voters compared to Los Angeles,Orange or San Diego Counties.All these local governments are currently having economic issues. Mono and Inyo howevr are more local when it comes to acess, to being able to speak to your BoS member. True , that all these folks are capable of having their own agenda but I truly believe that the Inyo BoS are on the lookout for us all. You do not need a $1200.00 Armani suit and style to speak to any of the Inyo Supes . You just might present a good idea to them that is beneficial to the County . Have to say there would be alot of patronizing and marginalizing in LA at some individual request or idea but in the Inyo , comments that are respectful are considered and they better be and make it snappy. These folks represent everybody, not just me and in the Inyo County Board Meetings each individual has an opportunity to express an opinion. When the words in the Pledge that begins each meeting come to, “with liberty and justice for all” I have begun to feel that there is truth in the room and that our Inyo Supes are holding true to those words. It has taken me decades to be able to again say those important words and to now feel the significance, the responsibility and the true opportunity that I as an indivdiual have to share in this democracy process . It doesn’t happen easily in LA and if it doesn’t happen for you every day in the Eastern Sierra then this is the place that you can do something about it.

    • 86heard December 18, 2013 at 12:51 pm #

      4 of the 5 Supervisors are in their first term – 3 of them in their first year. Cut them some slack. If they need help, they should get help. Maybe it was a mess when they got there?

      • 29th Minute December 18, 2013 at 4:24 pm #

        Check out 29th minute of 17 December LADWP commissioners meeting. Camera pans for a few seconds to empty teleconference room in Bishop. Might be nice to have supervisors show their presence when Owens Lake contracts are on the agenda.

      • Not hardly December 18, 2013 at 7:14 pm #

        According to the article, this problem was caused recently by raises with no money to back it by this board. Finances aren’t their strong suit, obviously. They must be really good at other things.

    • Sunoma Logathain December 19, 2013 at 8:47 am #

      I thought of an idea. Instead of feeling like we taxpayers are powerless to influence the county decision makers, why don’t we organize a group made up of citizens interested in good government? I don’t like feeling powerless. And we need to get the people in the southeastern corner of the county in on this. A group of us would have much more of an impact than a lone voice here and there on Sierra Wave. Kudos to Sierra Wave for providing this forum! Anybody out there want to organize such a group? There are lots of dynamic thinkers and problem solvers out there in Inyo land.

      • Desert Tortoise December 19, 2013 at 10:14 am #

        That is absolutely true. Packing the chambers for supervisors meetings and a line of people waiting to comment on agenda items will get any elected body’s attention.

      • Philip Anaya December 20, 2013 at 10:38 am #

        It seems we could use a few more bucks. True if you watch your nickels and dimes the dollars take care of themselves.
        I do not believe that Inyo County has dedicated Grant Writing office. Grants do provide dollars although they are limited and short term but every dollar helps. Being a County with a huge percentage of Public Lands and a having a large percentage of visitors to resident population, I would not feel bad having Inyo County getting a fair share of available Federal ,State, or Private Foundation grant dollars. Any outside dollars that end up in the County are a benefit and Inyo County could have a prolific and succesful program with the underemployed talent pool that resides here. Solutions are about investment,stength and empowerment and the seekers of solutions and Grants profit in dollars, sense and shared resolution with Leaders we need to support. A teaspoon of honey catches more bears than a gallon of vinegar (quote of Lillian Frey)


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