SLO County supervisors agree to hire consultant to train staff, management

County supervisors rebuffed an attempt by a county union leader Tuesday to vote down a $62,000 contract for a consultant who aims to train staff and management in the General Services Agency.

Spending that amount on a task that a county employee can do is unwise at a time when employees are postponing cost-of-living raises and are worried about losing their jobs, said Kimm Daniels, general manager of the San Luis Obispo County Employees Association.

SLOCEA has several bargaining units that represent about 1,700 of the county’s 2,400 workers. It is a powerful force affecting county government and its costs and effectiveness, although it is a private organization.

Supervisors Frank Mecham and Katcho Achadjian were at first sympathetic to Daniels’ argument, with Mecham suggesting that the county handle the job in house.

However, the General Service Agency’s Helen McCann said, “Strategic planning requires an expertise we do not have.”

McCann added that the consultant is “necessary for our agency at a time when we’re still in transition.” The agency, a merger of the former General Services and Information Technology Departments, reorganized in early 2008.

County Administrative Officer Jim Grant added that the agency is “still coming together. It’s a big agency, and it needs a lot of work.”

The contractor is Cornerstone Consulting, a Milwaukee-based software supplier.

In the end, supervisors gave the go-ahead to contract with the consultant, with Mecham saying he was doing so reluctantly.