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Grand Jury Shines Light On Fire Department, Library, IT And Others

Sonora, CA — Today the Tuolumne County Grand Jury released its 2016-17 report.

The 19-member jury was again tasked with reviewing the efficiency and effectiveness of local government.

The new report took a detailed look at the Tuolumne County Fire Department and its contract with CAL Fire for dispatch services, emergency response, emergency fire protection and basic life support. The Grand Jury concludes that it may be a conflict of interest having the same person fill the role of both Tuolumne County Fire Chief and CAL Fire Tuolumne-Calaveras Unit Chief. It also raises concerns about having four separate, but interactive, dispatch centers serving the county (Sonora Police, TC Sheriff, CAL Fire In San Andreas and CHP in Merced).

It recommends that the CHP not continue to be the primary contact for 911 cellular calls because the dispatch in Merced does not always know the geographic layout of the county. It also noted there is a desire among many to have a multi-agency dispatch center established on South Forest Road in Sonora, which has been discussed for several years.

Related to the Tuolumne County Library system, the Grand Jury found that the lack of a head Library Director, since 2010, has been detrimental in that there is a “vague chain of command,” and a lack of a direct voice for the library to the CAO and Board of Supervisors. To keep the library operational, some employees perform duties outside of their realm, without compensation, “resulting in low employee morale,” according to the Grand Jury.

The report adds that the library has become increasingly popular, noting, “At the time the Library Director position was eliminated, and library staff and hours were reduced, there were 27,664 active cardholders in Tuolumne  County….In 2015-2016 there were 32,372 active library cardholders.”

The Grand Jury recommends a study be undertaken to look into a possible parcel tax and/or sales tax increase to supplement the General Fund budget for the library.

The report also detailed glaring security risks related to information technology, and a need to increase IT staff and funding. The report states blatantly, “The Grand Jury was terrified. Security, policy and procedures, training, and project management need to take  more prominence in the IT Department and throughout Tuolumne County.  Serious security issues exist throughout the county’s fleet of devices, and  staff are untrained and unfamiliar with current best practices to respond to security  incidents.”

The Grand Jury also reviewed Brown Act Violations with the Groveland Community Services District, and looked at how pay raises are carried out for the county’s Board of Supervisors.

In addition, it reviewed the operations of the Sierra Conservation Center, Jail and Juvenile Detention Facility.

The items referenced above are just a snapshot of the 158 page report. You can view the entire document by clicking here.