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New county chief faces huge deficit

Daly takes reins of a $7 million deficit for upcoming fiscal year
By: Raheem Hosseini Telegraph Correspondent
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For the new county chief, it’s the same story, different county. After battling similar budget issues in neighboring Amador County, El Dorado County’s newest chief administrative officer, Terri Daly, takes the reins this week of a county in fiscal straits. Specifically, El Dorado is looking to erase a projected $7 million deficit ahead of next fiscal year, which begins in July. The county recently approved $4 million in budget reductions, a chunk of which came from law enforcement. “Certainly the highest priority is taking over that” deficit reduction plan, said Daly, whose first day as CAO was Tuesday. Daly spent her first few months in El Dorado County as former CAO Gayle Erbe-Hamlin’s assistant administrative officer. Before that, she held Amador County’s top administrative position for more than three years, shepherding the small rural county through a countywide reorganization that mixed department consolidations, early retirement incentives and 36-hour workweeks to offset steep declines in county revenues. Daly also participated in multi-party negotiations with the Buena Vista Band of Me-Wuk Indians regarding its plans to erect a controversial Indian casino and was credited with developing structurally balanced annual budgets during the worst of the economic downturn. “We are fortunate that Terri already has a proven track record of success as a county executive,” board Chair Norma Santiago said in a prepared statement. “Terri’s experience and get-it-done approach will serve the county well.” Erbe-Hamlin, who set a self-imposed three-year cap for herself in the CAO position, recruited Daly when she was in Amador County. Daly said the challenges of a larger county and the additional school opportunities for her children convinced her to accept the position. “I was looking for a place that can keep me going for the rest of my career, and I think I found that in El Dorado,” Daly said. Down the road, Daly would like to bolster the county’s organizational infrastructure to allow department heads better interaction and maximize efficiencies. Creating public-private partnerships with other jurisdictions, private businesses and nonprofits are also on her long-term agenda. Daly holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from Stanford University, and an MBA from San Francisco State University. She was appointed at Step 3 of the salary schedule, which equals an annual salary of $168,396.72, according to senior policy analyst Mike Applegarth. Erbe-Hamlin joined the county’s Public Health Department in 1985 and was appointed CAO in 2008. She announced her retirement in November. Her ending annual salary was $185,660.76.