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Tuolumne County Shifts Economic Development Structure

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Sonora, CA — Tuolumne County will no longer have a department head focused on economic development, and is downgrading the position to a Senior Administrative Analyst who will be under the county administrator.

The shift was recommended to the board of supervisors by CAO Tracie Riggs. The change comes after Cole Przybyla’s departure three months ago as the Director of Innovation and Business Assistance. CAO Riggs indicated that the pay scale for that existing position topped out at around $127,000, and the shift to an analyst will save the county around $36,000. The analyst will also put together a team of local community stakeholders to assist efforts.

The vote was split, 3-2, with Supervisors Jaron Brandon, Ryan Campbell and David Goldemberg in favor and Kathleen Haff and Anaiah Kirk opposed.

Haff argued against both the previous structure, and CAO Riggs’ proposal, stating, “I think we have had two tries at this (with former EDA Director Larry Cope and later Przybyla), using our governmental agency platform, and I think where the private sector can do, the private sector should do.”

She proposed contracting economic development-related aspects to an outside group, specifically mentioning Visit Tuolumne County, and removing it from under the county government umbrella.

Supervisor Kirk noted he would like to see a request for proposals from outside groups to find what opportunities were out there in relation to potentially contracting services.

Supervisor Campbell raised concerns about contracting out, citing problems that arose related to transparency with the former Tuolumne County EDA under past director Cope.

After going back and forth and discussing various options, the county decided to move forward with CAO Riggs’ proposal and will begin looking to fill the administrative analyst position.