Citing a recently imposed hiring freeze, Ventura County supervisors on Tuesday rejected a request to hire two full-time Channel Islands Harbor Patrol officers despite the coming of summer and the peak boating season.
The board, however, voted 4 to 0 to hire one part-time officer who could be trained to assume a permanent position at a later date. Supervisor John K. Flynn was not present at the meeting.
Supervisors Judy Mikels and Frank Schillo said that they believed the county could wait to fill one or both of the full-time positions once the board has adopted its budget for the new fiscal year, beginning July 1.
But Frank Anderson, harbor manager, noted that the supervisors are not scheduled to begin budget hearings until late July. He said officers are needed for the peak boating season that runs from mid-June through August. In addition to providing harbor security, the patrol officers are also responsible for emergency marine rescue and paramedic service.
Mikels and Schillo, however, said that one of the positions has been vacant since last August and should have been filled before the hiring freeze went into effect in March.
"If they're really that important and they are a part of public safety," at least one position should have been filled by now, Mikels said. "I'm very frustrated by the whole thing."
Anderson said that it takes two to three months to train and certify a patrol officer applicant and that winter storms delayed the hiring process.
Supervisors Maggie Kildee and Susan K. Lacey said they considered the harbor patrol a part of public safety, which has been exempted from the county hiring freeze. They proposed to fill one of the full-time positions.
But Mikels and Schillo rejected that proposal. The board eventually reached a compromise to hire one part-time office employee.
"That would be better than nothing at all," Anderson told the board. "However, it would be analogous to having a dispatcher in the sheriff's office as opposed to a person in a patrol car."