I read the article in Saturday’s issue of the Ravalli Republic about the Ravalli County road department. I am an employee of the road department and I would like to point out a couple of errors in the article as well as mention a few other things.
The first discrepancy in the article pertains to layoff notices being sent out to seven employees. Neither the office manager nor the office assistant has received letters informing them of a layoff as of yet. They have both been informally told that their positions are being eliminated but will be replaced by a single, newly created, position – titled “administrative assistant”. The new position is a combination of the two office positions with some responsibilities being removed which are currently carried out by the office manager. The new position is currently posted on the Ravalli County website. The overflow of work will be passed up to either the administrator or the road supervisor once the office is reduced to one staff member.
It is interesting to note that in April the now Road Supervisor was promoted from Operations Manager without the newly (re-) created Road Supervisor position being posted either in-house or to the public. Some people are questioning why the rules did not apply to the Supervisor position, which are now being applied to an office position. This same supervisor is slated to receive a raise of approximately $1.60 per hour upon his one-year anniversary date in November. No one else in the department is receiving a raise, aside from the county-wide COLA which has already been implemented as of 7/1/13. And here we all thought there was no money?
I find it extremely fascinating that on the heels of a grievance filed by a road department employee, there are 7 jobs being eliminated – two of which no mention had ever been made prior to the budget hearing on July 9th – one of which is held by the individual who filed the grievance. If you look back at the commissioners’ calendar, you will see that a grievance hearing was held on July 2nd. One week later, on July 9th, at the budget hearing, the department heads were notified of 5 operator layoffs and 2 job eliminations. In addition to the 2 office positions being eliminated, there are actually only 4 operator layoffs due to one operator giving notice only days before the road department was notified of the layoffs and job eliminations by the BCC.
Another discrepancy in the article is the number of road department employees mentioned. There are currently only 24 department employees, total. After the layoffs, and when the newly created office position is filled, there will be a total of 19 road department employees – 1 Road Supervisor, 1 Administrator, 1 Shop Foreman, 2 Crew Leaders, 2 Mechanics, 9 Driver/Operators, 2 Work Zone Assistants, and 1 Administrative Assistant. Approximately 25% of the road department’s work force is being eliminated. Four people will be gone who are currently on the emergency call-out list, bringing the call-out list down to 9 from 13. There are currently 9 snow-plow routes in winter and there will be only 9 driver/operators with no back-up drivers. There was also an operator who was terminated in November or December 2012 whose position was never filled. In trying to maintain 550 miles of road – patching; graveling; grading; sweeping; dust-oiling; mowing; trimming and removing trees; repairing culverts, bridges, and guardrails; maintaining signs; running a gravel crusher operation; plowing and sanding; de-icing culverts and ditches; paving; chipping; crack sealing; and a multitude of other things – a total road crew of 13 is far from sufficient. Citizens should expect that the response time to their complaints will increase greatly with the reduced work force.
On August 1st (last I knew that was the date), there is a meeting with the commissioners to determine how the road department’s capital savings will be spent. One of the items that was to be addressed is funds for a surveillance system to be placed inside the road department. The dollar amount I have heard, repeatedly, is in the tens of thousands of dollars for that surveillance system. To my knowledge there are only a few places in the county where there are cameras – the hallways in the courthouse which is very logical, the commissioners’ meeting room which is also logical, and the county’s gravel crusher, yet another logical choice since there were FOUR wire thefts on the crusher in 2012 alone, prior to cameras being purchased. The camera in the commissioners’ meeting room is rarely, if ever, turned on and used. Why is that? The desire of the commissioners is to place cameras in the reception office, the supervisor’s office, the two gates, and the crew’s break room inside the road department. There are no problems with theft at the road department, so where is the justification for spending tens of thousands of dollars on video surveillance equipment for the seemingly sole purpose of “watching” the road department employees?
I wish to remain anonymous at this time for fear of retaliation, which seems to be running rampant around here lately. The information I have laid out in this email should be public information and can be substantiated pretty easily.
Name withheld by request