Funding shortfalls and increased costs means many Yolo County departments will be experiencing closures during the 2010-2011 fiscal year. Several offices have decreased their hours and increased staff furloughs.
“Due to reduced hours and furloughs for employees, the county has cut back on services,” said supervisor Helen Thomson. “We’ve cut approximately 16-20 million dollars for all services this year.”
The office of the Auditor-Controller/Treasurer-Tax Collector is one of the offices affected by these closures. They have extended their open office-hours Monday through Thursday but are closed on Fridays.
“We’re now open 36 hours a week instead of 40 to accommodate staff furloughs,” said Pat Wright, assistant auditor-controller. “This is the sixth week that we’ve had these hours.”
Despite these cuts, the office of the Auditor-Controller/Treasurer-Tax Collector said they are attempting to offer the best public service possible. A kiosk is now staffed with volunteers on Fridays to answer questions from the public and direct visitors to various departments.
“Our main concern is to provide excellent service to the public,” said Wright. “The staff is disappointed. We don’t want pay cuts. We want to service the public and we want to be working. But that’s not the way the decisions have occurred.”
The county began recruiting volunteers Aug. 6. Volunteers, such as Woodland local Juan Vitella, started working the kiosk on Aug. 13 in two-hour shifts.
“I’m looking for extra experience and different opportunities. It’s hard to find a job,” said Vitella, 22, who was recently laid off from Gottschalks when the company went out of business. He attended Woodland Community College for a few years and plans to try to go back to school.
“I think this is a good opportunity to see a different environment than one I’m used to,” he said. “It’s one of the bigger opportunities [of] all my jobs so far. It will provide good references and knowledge of the departments.”
Gina Rowland, human resources manager, said she is pleased with the volunteers so far – but the county is still recruiting.
“We are in need of more volunteers,” Rowland said. “We have not had an overwhelming response. We had an orientation on the 10th and only five people attended.”
So far, the position has attracted people looking for employment. Among the other volunteers signed up are a former doctor from Cambodia and a citizen of Woodland who was recently laid off.
“We’re looking for anybody who has an interest, is friendly and would enjoy greeting the public,” Rowland said. “Experience with the public would be helpful but certainly not necessary.”
Those interested in the volunteer position can apply by clicking on “volunteer opportunities” at destinationyolo.org.
SARAH HANSEL can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.