Danville Express

Newsfront - June 29, 2007

Alamo faces glitch in new recreation hire

Rec programmer must now carry own insurance

by Natalie O'Neill

A new county policy is making the search for an Alamo recreation programmer harder than expected.

County policy now states independent contractors are no longer under the county's liability umbrella and must take on the financial responsibility themselves, county public works officials explained at last week's Alamo R-7A Parks and Recreation Committee meeting.

This makes part-time, non-benefited independent contractors - like Alamo's previous recreation programmer - extremely difficult to find, the committee members agreed.

"No one in their right mind would do that," said committee member Marianne Sasso.

Warren Lai, county associate civil engineer, has been conducting interviews for the position and suggested the committee consider hiring a full-time benefited employee as a programmer.

"Most people (applying for the position) want to be full time and benefited," he said.

Lai used a specific example of one potential candidate he had interviewed, who was a great fit for the job. When it came down to it, however, she did not take the job because she was concerned about the county contract.

"She felt the contract put her too much at risk - that there was too much liability on her part," he explained, adding that the part time work wasn't enough to make her sign on.

The change in county policy has put the search for recreation programmers back to square one, he said.

Committee members then began to discuss solutions.

"If this person is qualified, we should consider how to go out to bid and make her part of the process," Sasso said.

A full-time benefited position would run the committee anywhere from $200,000-$225,000 per year, Lai said. For non-benefited part-time work, the previous recreation programmer, Valerie Matlock, earned from about $25,000-$30,000 annually.

Looking at the numbers, some committee members said they felt they were too high.

"Either Valerie (Matlock) was significantly underpaid or the county is significantly overpaid," said committee member Maire-Jeanne Parsons.

A more feasible solution, the committee suggested, would be to hire company contract work. This way the contract company would have its own insurance policy and the individual contractor would be protected.

They then gave the county the go-ahead to investigate these contract firms, which are generally more expensive, but more likely to agree to county contract terms.

Other committee members suggested teaming up with Danville for funds.

"Maybe we should look at approaching the town of Danville to see if they will piggyback it," said Nancy Dommes, who serves on the committee.

This also raised the issue of whether the position should be expanded, an ongoing point of discussion for the committee.

"If you want to take (the recreation program) to another level, will you need a full-time employee? Of course," Lai said.

But some committee members weren't sure the program is ready to expand in that way at this point. There is Web site and administrative work to be done - which is more than a one man, part-time job - but a full-time position may be too large of a leap, members said.

"My vision is to have someone like Valerie with someone else for support," Committee Chairman Steve Mick said.

The topic will be discussed further at next month's R-7A meeting at 4:30 p.m., Wednesday, July 18, at Hap Magee Ranch Park; the county is currently looking into contract companies that can cover their own risk management.

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