The payment of salary and benefits for employees of the Environmental Health Services Division of the Department of Public Health and identified employees in the Land Use Services Department impacted the recent terrorist attack is expected to be extended at this week’s meeting of the San Bernardino County Board Supervisors.
According to Chief Executive Officer, Greg Devereaux, benefit extension is being offered to employees in these work groups who remain off work as a result of the terrorist event. The benefits are expected to be extended through January 12, 2016.
The Division of Environmental Health Services (EHS) reopened for business on Monday, December 14; however, the division’s employees remain on leave. While these employees work to recover physically and emotionally, temporary staff is available to handle the division’s duties.
The terrorist attack which occurred the morning of December 2 during a holiday celebration at the Inland Regional Center, left 14 individuals dead, 21 injured and is rated among the top ten deadliest mass shooting events in American history.
Officials confirmed 13 of the 14 deceased and 18 of the 21 injured were county employees in the Department of Public Health, Environmental Health Services—the division responsible for performing state mandated health and safety services. Those lost and injured represented nearly a third of the entire workforce. The remaining staff bore witness to the tragedy and as a result, was sorely impacted by the trauma.
“As the health and welfare of county employees is of paramount importance to the Board,” Devereaux explained, “On December 7, members of the Board of Supervisors made several findings during an emergency meeting.” Those findings were as follows:
Firstly, the board acknowledged the mass shooting involved and impacted all employees of the San Bernardino Department of Public Health, Division of Environmental Health Services.
Secondly, the board determined all individuals employed by the County of San Bernardino and assigned to EHS as of December 1, 2015, would be entitled to full pay and benefits through the conclusion of their regularly scheduled work hours on Monday, December 21, 2015.
Finally, the board expressed its belief that by allowing EHS employees an adequate period of rest and recovery from the tragedy it will in the long run, not only serve the needs of the employees but also help facilitate the public purpose of providing a stable workforce in the County of San Bernardino.
Subsequent to the December 7th decision by the Board, staff identified an additional limited number of employees in the Land Use Services Department, particularly those in the Rancho Cucamonga office, who were similarly and severely impacted by these events. As a result, the board is expected to also authorize leave and pay for those employees as well.
Although the Division of DHS has reopened, the Environmental Health Services offices in San Bernardino and Rancho Cucamonga are closed indefinitely and work will be performed from temporary locations. EHS services are available by calling (800) 442-2283 or online at www.sbcounty.gov/dph/dehs/.
The fiscal impact to the county for this process remains unknown. Although the salary and benefit costs for these employees are already included in the departmental budgets, additional staffing expenses may be required as action is taken to provide services to the public during this extraordinary period of recovery. According to Devereaux, “The actual cost is unknown at this time as the number of county employees that will need additional time off and through what period is unknown.” As a result, the effort will require the use of some additional Discretionary General Funding.
Although adjustments to the 2015-16 Budget were not requested at this time such adjustments will be included in a future county-wide budget report, Devereaux confirmed.