ITEM:

CONSENT CALENDAR

 

5.

CONSIDER AUTHORIZATION OF EXPENDITURE OF FUNDS TO EXTEND THE CONTRACT OF A TEMPORARY EMPLOYEE FOR THE WATER DEMAND DIVISION

 

Meeting Date:

August 16, 2004

Budgeted:

N/A

 

From:

David A. Berger,

Program/

Conservation Contingency/

 

General Manager

Line Item No.:

Salary Recovery

 

 

 

Prepared By:

 

Stephanie Pintar

Cost Estimate:

$12,736

General Counsel Approval:

N/A

Committee Recommendation:

The Administrative Committee reviewed this item on August 5, 2004 and recommended approval.

CEQA Compliance:

N/A

 

SUMMARY:The Board will consider authorizing$12,736 to hire a limited-term Office Specialist to assist the Water Demand Division during a period of increased workload and reduced staffing.A temporary worker is needed for up to 25 weeks to provide telephone and general office support due to an unusually large number of permit applications and telephone calls at a time when the office is short staffed because of a recent resignation. $5,492 of this expenditure will come from the Conservation Contingency Fund and $7,244 will result from salary recovery during recruitment for the vacant Conservation Representative position.The General Manager approved hiring a temporary employee to assist the division beginning on August 2, 2004, using his authority for expenditures up to $2,000.The request before the Board is for an additional 918 hours at $13.87 per hour.

 

Water permit applications and related inquiries from the public have increased over 100% during the past several weeks as a result of California American Waterís announcement of their pending application to the Public Utilities Commission for a moratorium on new water connections.This extra demand upon Water Demand Division staff time has resulted in a shift of priorities.The Conservation Representative II has shifted priorities from returning telephone calls, responding to correspondence and meeting with customers, to processing the increased number of permit applications.During the month of July 2004, staff issued 119 water permits:Of the permits issued, 14 were new connections (8 were new homes in Seaside, 2 were commercial projects in Monterey, one was a duplex in Pacific Grove and two were for the Pacific Grove Senior Housing Project).The other permits issued included:One remodel that resulted in an intensification in use, 56 remodels that offset the expanded use, 14 non-Cal-Am permits, one permit in the Water West system, and 34 permit waivers.

 

During a one-week period in mid-July (July 12-20, 2004), staff processed (not issued) 175 water permits, in comparison to 42 permits processed during the same seven-day time frame in June 2004.The Conservation Representatives have been responding to telephone calls when they are in the office and have been delaying follow-up on inspection violations and requests for water credits.Telephone calls and walk-in assistance is requiring additional time due to the complexity of the questions that are being asked.In addition, one Conservation Representative tendered his resignation on August 2.His last day was August 6.It is estimated that recruiting for the position will take between six to eight weeks.

 

Impacts to customers include a significant increase in waiting periods for inspections (currently staff is scheduling into the third week in August.Additionally, a new backlog of conservation enforcement letters has been created by the increased telephone and walk-in traffic.The longer the delay in enforcement, the more difficult it is to achieve the desired compliance.

 

Hiring a temporary employee for approximately 25 weeks to greet customers, answer the telephone and route calls, and to perform data entry duties would allow Water Demand Division staff to devote their time and attention to accomplishing technical duties and to training a new Conservation Representative.

 

It should be noted that in addition to the threat of a moratorium, the Districtís move to Stage 3 of the Expanded Water Conservation and Standby Rationing Plan on June 22, 2004 has also impacted the workload of the division.Currently, approximately 30 percent of the telephone calls received on a daily basis are related to Cal-Am activities.Prior to Stage 3, the Water Demand Division received few, if any, Cal-Am related telephone calls.Since Stage 3 began, staff estimates that the total average daily number of telephone calls is exceeding 110 calls per day.Prior to Stage 3, the division received roughly 70 calls per day.In addition to customer service related to Stage 3, District staff has committed to assisting Cal-Am with water audits and other duties related to Stage 3, as schedules permit.

 

RECOMMENDATION:By adopting this item with the Consent Calendar, staff may extend the limited-term employment contract with an Office Specialist up to a maximum additional expenditure of $12,736.The extended contract will be for a maximum of 918 hours at $13.87 per hour.The Administrative Committee considered this item at its August 10, 2004 meeting and unanimously recommended approval.†††††††††††

 

IMPACT ON STAFF AND RESOURCES: Funds totaling $5,500 are included in the Personnel Contingency account of the Conservation Fund.This account is for unexpected personnel expenses, such as the need for temporary help and is listed under Personnel Costs in the FY 2004-2005 Budget. Additional funds totaling $7,244, budgeted as salary for a Conservation Representative I position, will be recovered due to the vacancy of that position during recruitment.

 

BACKGROUND:†† Prompt customer service is of prime importance to the Water Management District as a whole and the Water Demand Division in particular.The increase in workload caused by California-American Waterís pending moratorium has made it impossible for staff to maintain previous levels of service, without temporary clerical assistance. The resignation of a Conservation Representative I has further impacted the divisionís ability to service the public. The General Manager has authorized up to $2,000 to fund a limited-term employee.However, Board approval is requested for funds sufficient to cover a longer period of the time prior to the Public Utility Commission either granting or denying a water connection moratorium, and until a new Conservation Representative I is hired and trained. The limited-term employee will work in the Water Demand Division and be supervised by the Water Demand Manager.

 

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