EID slashes management positions by 21 percent

By: Roger Phelps, The Telegraph
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After an audit found El Dorado Irrigation District riddled by mistrust, overstaffing, poor job control and poor conflict resolution, a new top executive slashed management positions by 21 percent. General manager Tom Gallier cited money considerations -- amid a poor economy and rising costs -- among reasons for the cuts, which are estimated to save $1.4 million. However, in a recent presentation to board members, Gallier left no doubt the harsh audit findings were on his mind. "There remains a significant level of mistrust between line employees and district management," Gallier said. "It will take some time, and a lot of effort, to break down the communication barriers and levels of distrust that have been building for several years." A painstaking survey of EID employees by Westin Engineering Inc. this year asked for 1-to-10 scaled answers to questions including whether "a strong level of trust" existed among senior management employees. Some 61 percent of management employees rated trust at a score of three or lower, audit documents show. A question to line employees and managers asked whether organizational structure was "aligned for efficiency and effectiveness." Some 71 percent of line employees gave low ratings, from zero to 3. Managers split all over the board on the question, with one-third giving low ratings on efficiency and effectiveness, one-third giving medium marks and one third giving high marks. "Westin's conclusions regarding the number and salaries of district management staff are essentially correct," Gallier told board members. "Reorganization will result in the elimination of nine permanent positions (and) the demotion of five management positions." Demotion means a salary cut. Gallier took over at EID four months ago from an interim general manager. He replaced Ane Deister, who resigned last year to take a job in Rancho Cordova with a private firm, said Deanne Kloepfer, district information officer. Asked by Westin to rate "timely and appropriate management decisions made," fewer than two in five managers -- 39 percent -- gave high marks. Some 28 percent, more than one in four, gave low marks. Line employees saw it differently, with 58 percent giving low marks. A Web log titled "El Dorado Irrigation District -- the real story" carries numerous comments from members of an employees' association at EID. In the main, they posit an atmosphere of intimidation of line employees by management, up to and including Deister. With the cuts, management positions will number 40, down from 51. The management-to-staff ratio will change from one-to-five to one-to-seven. All 10 department co-manager positions are eliminated, and all five assistant department-head positions are eliminated. Employees whose positions are cut can apply for other open positions, Kloepfer said. The Telegraph’s Roger Phelps can be reached at, or post a comment at