Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Rudolfo Avila (middle) and Winnemucca Police Department Officer Heather Cahill (not pictured) were  honored by Captain Lininger (right) and Sheriff Allen (left) with  letters of commendation for their instrumental work in and outside of the Humboldt County Detention Center at the most recent County Commissioners meeting.
Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Rudolfo Avila (middle) and Winnemucca Police Department Officer Heather Cahill (not pictured) were honored by Captain Lininger (right) and Sheriff Allen (left) with letters of commendation for their instrumental work in and outside of the Humboldt County Detention Center at the most recent County Commissioners meeting.
Contentious discussion was at the forefront of the July 18 Humboldt County Commission meeting after board members were presented with a request from Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office officials regarding sick leave payout.

At the meeting, the HCSO submitted a request for a policy change within the Sheriff’s Office Appointed Personnel Policy Manual. Sheriff Mike Allen and Undersheriff Kevin Malone addressed the commission and asked that they adopt newly outlined policies for all at-will employees that would allow Undersheriff Malone to cash out the 980 hours of sick leave he had acquired in order to purchase retirement credits. Further, for him to receive longevity pay, both of which conflict with the County Personnel Policies that appointed employees—like the Undersheriff, Patrol Captain, Jail Captain and Office Manager— are subject to. 

The current policies adherent to at-will employees allow for 720 hours of sick leave to be cashed out for retirement credit and hours in excess of 400 are suitable for cash out each year, so long as the request is submitted to the County Manager by Dec. 1, up to five times within an individual’s duration of employment. Longevity pay— additional compensation granted on the basis of length of service, usually at 10, 15, and 20 years — is not authorized for at-will employees, but appointed officials are subject to annual salary increases that hourly employees are not afforded. According to county officials, Undersheriff Malone was appointed by Sheriff Allen in his 16th year of employment, making him ineligible for the 20-year longevity pay granted to hourly employees. 

After contentious debate, the board of commissioners resolved that Undersheriff Malone is still able to exercise his right to cash out sick leave hours, but that he should submit the hours over 400 by Dec. 1 and convert the hours under the rest of the 720 30 days before his retirement. 

Undersheriff Malone expressed his concern that the process for cashing out the sick leave hours would affect the timing of his retirement, which is eligible for law enforcement at 25 years of service. 

“At the end of this year, I will be five months and 3 days short of a full 25 years of service. Using this additional sick leave to buy out additional PERS—Public Employees Retirement System— credits will put me over the 25 years,” said Malone.

The board noted that the adopting of a formal policy would have a significant, unbudgeted fiscal impact on taxpayers and a future administration which is only five months from taking office. Chairman French expressed aversion to imposing such rudimentary changes upon both taxpayers and upcoming authorities, but advised that future administrations may want to address these policies. 

“The problem is that what is being asked of us is to adopt a policy, which enforces what you feel is correct, on another administration,” said Chairman French to Sheriff Allen and Undersheriff Malone. 

The request died from a lack of motion to either deny or approve with all members present (commissioner Jesse Hill was present via a web-call).



In other news from the July 18 meeting: 

• The board approved the minutes from previous meetings and expenditures for Humboldt County from July 5th to July 18th. 

• The board approved the resolution for capital improvement policy, five-year capital improvement plan, and  a debt management plan for Humboldt County, presented by Comptroller Gina Rackley. The board also waived the attrition policy for an Accounting Technician position within the Comptroller Office because of the fundamental role the tech plays in daily functions.

• The board heard an update from Comptroller Rackey in regards to the current conditions of revenues and expenditures for the fiscal year 2022 and an update on the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. According to Comptroller Rackley, there is an opportunity to use  ARPA funds for a new water tank for the Pueblo Fire House in Denio, NV. 

• Five zone change requests by the Regional Planning Committee were set to public hearing (RH-22-11 through RH-22-16).

• The board addressed a nuisance complaint against a property owner in the Golconda area with the help of Deputy Angel Cardenas, and established the occupant will resolve the complaint by September. 

•  A presentation by Humboldt County Public Works Director Don Klakoske about general road projects was heard, but no action by the board was necessary. 

• The consideration to approve a contract with Therese Ure Stix of Schroeder Law Offices, P.C. for possible procurement of legal services in regards to the Gold Country Water System was tabled by the board. The possibility of organizing a General Improvement District—to maintain necessary maintenance of a future facility for water services in the Grass Valley (GV) area— was discussed by the board. Chairman of the board, Jim French, expressed rising concern about the nitrate levels in the water and voiced his desire for action in the matter. County Manager Dave Mendiola addressed concerns and explained that the board will have more information available about the different avenues that the board has in regards to a possible water system in GV, which will be discussed at a special meeting in August. 

• The board considered a proposal to retain Joel Locke of Allison and Mackenzie Law Firm for legal services, in order to have a standing agreement with the firm, which would assist and quicken the necessary process to obtain services with the firm. The motion passed 3-2 with Commissioner Tom Hoss and Commissioner Hill in opposition. 

• The board appointed Becca Fitzgerald to the Humboldt County Library Board of Trustees in a unanimous vote.

• Winnemucca Police Department (WPD) Chief Mike Rangel was appointed to the Humboldt County 911 Surcharge Advisory Committee by the board in a unanimous vote.  

• The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) presented letters of commendation to HCSO Deputy Rudolfo Avila and WPD Officer Heather Cahill for their hard work and determination within the HCSO, the detention center, and on the streets. Deputy Avila was present to accept his plaque from Captain Chris Lininger and Sheriff Allen, but Officer Cahill was absent, resting for a graveyard shift, according to Captain Lininger. 

• The HCSO presented a request to enter into a contract to add a nurse to the Detention Center through the use of ARPA funds, which the board unanimously approved. 

• The board unanimously approved the request by the HCSO to enter into contract with Montgomery Technology to update and replace the Detention Control System, Access Control System, and Intercom System, all of which are integral to safety and security within the Detention Center, according to Captain Lininger. 

• An event license was issued and approved by the Liquor Board (convened by Sheriff Allen), for the Rope for Hope event on July 23rd. 

• A request for approval to hire an Administrative Clerk was put forth by Assistant County Manager/Human Resources Director Abel Del-Real Nava to fill a vacancy in the department. The request was approved in a four to one vote, with Commissioner Tom Hoss voting in opposition. 

• The Human Resources Department (HRD) submitted a request for the board to approve four new job descriptions and their respective salary ranges for Human Services Caseworker I, Human Services Caseworker II, Public Administrator & Guardian Caseworker I and Public Administrator & Guardian Caseworker II, which passed with a four to one vote, with Commissioner Hoss in opposition. 

• The HRD submitted another request to open a recruitment to fill a Human Caseworker position and a Public Administrator position, which passed with four to one vote, with Commissioner Hoss in opposition.

• A request by the Winnemucca Events Center to purchase two roping box panels and a horse stall cover was unanimously approved by the board.

• A request to approve the Custom & Culture Law Enforcement Land Use chapters was tabled by the board.