Jerry Haynes resigns as CARD General Manager, cites differences with the board

25 Feb

When I read the story in the ER, my first thought was “don’t let the screen door hit you on the rear end Mr. Haynes.”

Haynes is the guy who yelled at me – should I say raised his voice? – over the phone when I called CARD one day to ask about the assessment process. First he denied any assessment plans, said CARD hadn’t even talked about putting an assessment on our property taxes. That was frustrating to me because I’d sat in meetings hearing about how they wanted to do just that, and articles have appeared in the paper.

I let that go, and asked if I could be put on the notice list for the Aquatic Center Advisory Adhoc Committee. He angrily denied there was any such committee. When I read to him  the agenda item about Bob Malowney being named to that very committee, he admitted there was a committee but denied they were planning to have any future meetings. He denied there was a notification list, but wanted my e-mail? He was so mad I didn’t feel comfortable giving it to him, telling him I’d contact CARD via the website. As I was saying ‘thank you’ he hung up, without so much as “excuse me I have to go to the can.

Urseny reports that Mr. Haynes cited “significant disagreement between myself and the board that I can’t work out,” as his reason for leaving.  I can see that. The board disagrees within itself, and one of the major disagreements seems to be the aquatic center. Board members Ed Seagle and Tom Lando have expressed doubts that the agency should be pursuing a big project like this at a time when they can’t even seem to pay their employees. Over the last couple of years they’ve cut their part time staffers, the people who actually do the work, cutting their hours back to 28 or less a week so they don’t have to pay healthcare. At that time the recreation director said she had to drop about 200 kids from an understaffed program. Lando pointed out that these people were paying customers. Nobody cared – they’d just made an unscheduled $400,000 payment on their CalPERS retirement fund, for the 33 management employees that are actually covered with benefits.  

Seagle has since lost the election and been replaced by aquatic center proponent Bob Malowney.  I’m sure it was the aquatic center proponents who whooshed both Malowney and aquatic center proponent Jan Sneed into their chairs. If everybody who voted for Sneed would write a check for $100, they’d have quite a bit of money  toward their project, but the board has made it clear they intend to go for a property tax of some sort to pay for their Taj Majal dreams.

Seagle and Lando are right – CARD can’t even pay it’s bills. How would they build and manage an aquatic center? I don’t even believe they intend to build it, I think they want an assessment to pay off their CalPERS and other employee compensation obligations. Here’s an article Laura Urseny wrote about a year and a half ago. 

By LAURA URSENY-Staff Writer

Posted:   07/12/2013 12:28:50 AM PDT

 

CHICO — Like walking a tightrope, there is little wiggle room when it comes to the 2013-14 budget of Chico Area Recreation and Park District.During a budget workshop Thursday, General Manager Steve Visconti said the numbers in the preliminary budget are balanced as they stand.

Visconti estimated CARD’s projected revenue will be down by $250,000 to $270,000 less than this year’s because of anticipated declines in property tax revenue and program revenue because of a staffing shortage.The preliminary budget shows total general fund revenue of $6,310,970, and expenses of $6,180,970.

“We feel the property tax revenue will be shy. It’s still in downturn, flat,” Visconti said.

The program revenue decline is a product of adjusting for the extra cost of the Affordable Care Act, which provides medical coverage to full-time employees.

The act changed the definition of a full-time employee from 40 hours weekly, to 30 hours. Because the act would force CARD to provide medical coverage to more employees, employee hours were further reduced.

Less staff hours means reduced program availability.

Director Ed Seagle noted some of the staffing gaps might be covered by interns from Chico State University, who wouldn’t have to be paid.

But Director Jan Sneed noted having staff train interns would take away more time from their overloaded duties.

Seagle noted college part-timers may stick around for a couple of years, so the training would be worthwhile.

Visconti said there was room in the budget to hire part-time temporary employees as long as they were truly part-time and temporary.

Director Tom Lando said he had a “philosophical difference” about using part-time workers rather than offering a full-time position with a “liveable wage.”

“To fill one (more) full-time position, we’d have to pull it out of reserves,” Visconti said.

The board talked about the Affordable Care Act and its impact in light of the recent federal announcement to delay implementation for a year.

Business manager Scott Dowell noted it would only give CARD about a six-month reprieve. Dowell said it costs CARD $10,000 a year per position to provide medical coverage.

Board members talked about having part-time workers put in more hours until the Affordable Care Act kicks in, an option that will further discussed at the next meeting, July 18.

BACKGROUND: The Chico Area Recreation and Park District is dealing with less projected revenue in its 2013-14 budget.

WHAT’S NEW: Because of the federal Affordable Care Act, CARD has been working to balance revenue and costs.

WHAT’S NEXT: CARD will take public comments at its next meeting, at 7 p.m. July 18 at Chico Community Center, 545 Vallombrosa Ave.

There, Lando mentions a “liveable wage” – CARD employees something like 300 employees, and only the 30 or so management employees have any kind of coverage.  And, $10,000 per employee is an average – here’s the link to the State Controllers website:

http://publicpay.ca.gov/Reports/SpecialDistricts/SpecialDistrict.aspx?fiscalyear=2013&entityid=1875

I guess Urseny’s article is over a year old, so that $10,000 figure is off. Way off. There’s only three management employees who get less than $10,000 worth of pensions and benefits. Look at those figures again.  CARD management employees, according to former finance director Scott Dowell (now with the city of Chico), pay nothing toward their benefits or pensions. We pay the figure you see, and then the rest floats on the stock market. CalPERS demanded that $300,000 “side payment,” saying they’d forgive penalties. They are demanding more money all the time, these public agencies have been taking huge pensions out of the fund without paying up front. That is the giant “pension liability” that is hanging over the head of every California taxpayer like the sword of Damocles. 

The city just handed them Sycamore Pool. They’ve neglected Pleasant Valley and Shapiro pools into disrepair and threaten to close them next year. 

I don’t know what Jerry Haynes’ problem is with the CARD board, but I know there’s definitely something funky going on at CARD. Want to find out? Invite me to a meeting. 

 

 

 

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