January 18, 2018

Caltrans’ efforts to hire the engineers and other personnel necessary to achieve the increased program resulting from last year’s transportation funding legislation (Senate Bill 1) was the lead topic of discussion at the monthly PECG/Caltrans meeting this week. Because Caltrans’ hiring has proceeded slowly and attrition through retirements has been significant, PECG urged the department to increase its efforts to bring sufficient personnel on board to ensure timely program and project delivery. The parties discussed delays in the hiring process which could result in qualified candidates selecting other employment. Caltrans reported the recruitment of engineers is going well but they are encountering difficulty in identifying qualified candidates for surveying positions. PECG members who are aware of potential surveyor candidates are encouraged to notify PECG by responding to this email.

Other topics of discussion included the ongoing problem with the promotional process for Senior Transportation Engineers, overdue pay increases for Senior Telecommunications Engineers and  Party Chiefs, and the authorization procedure for offering potential candidates the opportunity to be hired above the minimum or bottom step of the pay range.

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CalHR has announced that the vehicle mileage reimbursement for 2018 will be 54.5 cents per mile, consistent with the federal authorization.

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Tennessee is the latest state to report that outsourcing engineering services cost up to four times as much as utilizing state engineering staff to do the same work. See the article by PECG’s Jon Ortiz on the Infrastructure-Info website by clicking here.

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2017 was a bad year for disasters caused by weather. The total cost for the country was $306 billion, breaking the previous high of $215 billion in 2005. The cost of wildfires in California and elsewhere was $18 billion, three times the previous record.

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Karla Nemeth is the new Director of the Department of Water Resources. Karla was the Deputy Secretary for the California Natural Resources Agency since 2014. The Department Director for the previous seven months, Grant Davis, returned to his previous position as General Manager of the Sonoma County Water Agency.

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Richard T. Baker, who had been in declining health during the past year, passed away in late December. Dick Baker served as PECG’s Executive Director from 1976 until his retirement in 1996. He worked tirelessly and effectively in implementing collective bargaining for state employees and facilitating PECG’s election as the exclusive representative for Bargaining Unit 9. Negotiating pay and benefit increases, protecting the CalPERS retirement plan, and representing PECG members in a variety of forums were among his achievements. Dick was well known and widely respected during his many years of service to those who serve the public.