ITEM:   CONSENT CALENDAR

3.

Meeting Date:

June 16, 2008

Budgeted:  Included in Proposed FY 2008-2009 Budget

From:

Darby W. Fuerst,

General Manager

Program/Line Item No.:  Riparian Mitigations 2-1-3 C/Aquatic Resources Fisheries 2-3-2 B &C

Prepared By:

Cynthia Schmidlin

Cost Estimate:Up to $76,500 General Counsel Approval: N/A Committee Recommendation: The Administrative Committee reviewed this item on June 5, 2008 and recommended approval. CEQA Compliance: N/A SUMMARY: The District has funded limited-term positions to assist District staff in the completion of field activities since 1992. The schedules for these positions are part-time and largely seasonal in nature. Funding for these positions is included in the 2008-2009 Fiscal Year (FY) proposed budget. Authorization is requested to hire one limited-term Field Biology Assistant, for up to 1,000 hours, during FY 2008-2009. The incumbent of this position will complete riparian habitat mitigation tasks, assist in a variety of Carmel River resources monitoring activities, and provide general project support to Planning and Engineering and Water Resources Division staff. Authorization is also requested to hire three limited-term Water Resources Assistants. Two of the Water Resources Assistants will work up to 1,000 hours each during FY 2008-2009. These positions will assist with the District’s fisheries and aquatic resources program, as well as assist staff in groundwater and surface water monitoring programs. A third Water Resources Assistant would be hired for up to 360 hours of general field work from January to early March. This position would relieve the Assistant Fisheries Biologist and Associate Fisheries Biologist of some of their lower level duties for a nine-week period, and allow them to concentrate on completing portions of the annual Mitigation and Monitoring Report in a timely manner. Additionally, authorization is requested to hire two part-time limited-term Fisheries Aides for up to a total of 960 hours of work during FY 2008-2009. These individuals will assist staff in the intensive rescues of steelhead juveniles, smolts and adults in the lower Carmel River that take place during the summer season, as well as performing other fisheries tasks required to prepare for rescues. They may also assist in the release of reared fish from the Sleepy Hollow Steelhead Rearing Facility later in the year. RECOMMENDATION: Authorize the expenditure of funds to hire one limited-term Field Biology Assistants and two limited-term Water Resources Assistants for up to 1,000 hours of work each, between July 1, 2008 and June 30, 2009. In addition, authorize expenditure of funds to hire one limited-term Water Resources Assistant for up to 360 hours in the same period of time. These workers would be paid at an hourly wage of$14.75 to $15.75, according to their experience. Also authorize expenditure of funds to hire up two Fisheries Aides for up to 960 hours total between July 1, 2008 and June 30, 2009, at an hourly wage of$13.75.

IMPACTS TO STAFF/RESOURCES: The proposed budget for FY 2008-2009 includes funds to pay for these limited-term field positions in the Project Expenditures section.  Specifically, $21,000 for the Field Biology Assistant is listed in the Riparian Mitigation Program as line item 2-1-3 C. The Aquatic Resources Fisheries Program lists$40,600 for Water Resources Assistants in line item 2-3-2 B, as well as $14,900 for Fish Rescue Workers as line item 2-3-2 C. This totals$76,500 for the fiscal year.  During FY 2007-2008, a total of \$96,700 was budgeted for limited-term positions. Reorganization of field monitoring duties has resulted in the need for only one Field Biology Assistant in the upcoming fiscal year.  This has reduced the overall budgeted costs, despite an increase in hourly wages due to cost-of-living adjustments and a merit increase for one experienced returning employee.  Limited-term employees are not eligible for step increases like regular employees and do not receive any District benefits except for those required by law (e.g. workers compensation coverage.)

BACKGROUND:

A.      Field Biology Assistant: Since the summer of 1992, the District has hired Field Biology Assistants to conduct biological monitoring tasks for riparian mitigation projects.  In addition to assisting with vegetation monitoring tasks, these limited-term employees have   supported staff in all aspects of the irrigation and erosion protection programs. More recently, the Field Biology Assistants have also provided general project support to Planning and Engineering and Water Resources Division staff.  This includes assisting in the grant application process by creating Geographical Information Systems maps, writing project task descriptions, and researching costs.  It is important that one of these positions is continued through FY 2008-2009. The cumulative impact of shifting the duties to other District staff, or not being done at all, would limit the District’s ability to acquire grants, obtain permits for river activities, analyze and report District data related to riparian monitoring, pursue ordinance violations in the Carmel River corridor, and conduct outreach work with the public and other agencies and organizations.  These effects would adversely impact the scope and quality of work required by the District’s Mitigation Program.  The duties of the Field Biology Assistant are listed in the job description attached as Exhibit 3-A. This employee will work in the Planning and Engineering Division and be supervised by the Riparian Projects Coordinator.

B.      Water Resources Assistants:  This job classification was created in December 1998 to assist staff in the Water Resources Division with field and administrative tasks, including rescuing of juvenile steelhead in the lower Carmel River, surveying of steelhead spawning habitat, and monitoring of groundwater and surface water resources within the Monterey Peninsula Water Resource System. The limited-term employees in this classification are needed to help ensure that tasks for the District’s Fisheries Mitigation Program are completed on schedule. Water Resources Assistants have been instrumental in getting data on groundwater level and quality entered into the District’s databases and reducing the data for analysis and report presentation. They have also been integral in conducting the California Stream Bioassessment Procedure developed by the Department of Fish and Game as a rapid bioassessment protocol and method to track overall stream health. Without the assistance of limited-term help, the ability to conduct these tasks would be severely impacted.  Additionally, the Water Resources Assistants support regular staff with the well permitting registration and reporting program, hydrologic field activities, and lagoon water quality monitoring. The duties of the Water Resources Assistants are listed in the job description attached as Exhibit 3-B. These employees will work in the Water Resources Division and be supervised by the Senior Fisheries Biologist.

C.     Fisheries Aides:  During the past ten years, District staff has initiated rescues when streamflow receded below ten cubic feet per second at Highway One.  This has occurred anytime between April 1 and September 3.  Rescues of steelhead were anticipated to begin this year in July, but actually began in April.  The District will be rescuing and transporting three groups of steelhead, including smolts, kelts (spawned-out adults) and juveniles. The smolts and kelts will be transported downstream to the lagoon or ocean, while juveniles will be transported upstream to the Sleepy Hollow Steelhead Rearing Facility or permanent habitats above the Narrows. As rescues have begun earlier than in recent years, additional help will be needed to successfully perform this critical function. If staff attempted to conduct rescues with fewer workers, more fish would be lost because a smaller crew cannot effectively keep up with the number needing rescue and cannot work fast enough to keep up with the retreating river front. Shifting other staff to rescues would compromise the maintenance and operations schedule at the Sleepy Hollow Steelhead Rearing Facility.  It would also increase the risk of on-the-job injuries for people working too strenuously as they attempt to complete two critical jobs in the same period of time. The duties of the Fisheries Aides are listed in the job description attached as Exhibit 3-C.  The incumbent of this position will work in the Water Resources Division and be supervised by the Senior Fisheries Biologist.

EXHIBITS

3-A      Field Biology Assistant Job Description

3-B      Water Resources Assistant Job Description

3-Citem3_exh3c.htm  Fisheries Aide Job Description

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