Supervisor John Tavaglione

Many local government officials wear multiple hats, serving simultaneously on numerous boards and commissions to better their local communities. Some have the added challenge of bearing responsibility to their constituents and advocating for their colleagues across the State. Even fewer have had to deal with issues as complicated and potentially messy as Realignment of public safety.

However, the dedicated team at the California State Association of Counties has been an effective advocate for their members, and their success is in no small way attributed to their President, Supervisor John Tavaglione of Riverside County.

Supervisor Tavaglione has served as a CSAC Officer for the past three years and in 2011 he served as President during one of the most challenging years in the group’s 117-year history.

The first issue that Governor Brown addressed when sworn into office was his ambitious and historic Realignment Plan. Shifting billions of dollars from the State to the local level can carry tremendous risks not only for the governments themselves, but for the people they represent. However, CSAC and Tavaglione worked with the Governor to develop a plan that was manageable, safe, and responsible.

“His leadership and commitment to California’s 58 counties is unparalleled,” said David Liebler, the Director of Public Affairs and Member Services at CSAC. “He has traveled to Sacramento on a regular basis, met with the Governor and Legislative Leaders on a moment’s notice, presided over key CSAC meetings, and helped to craft a strategy with a goal of ensuring California counties ultimately receive constitutionally protected funding for realigned services.”

Now, more than a year after the idea of Realignment was first introduced, the state’s counties are receiving inmates and assuming responsibilities for parolees and probationers. A constitutional protection for funding for those services has qualified for the November 2012 ballot by way of the Governor’s Tax initiative.

Despite all of his successes at the State level, we would be remiss to not recognize his continued work for his constituents in Riverside County. The County – like so many in the State – has been plagued by budget deficits that forced hard choices between cuts in services and staff, increasing revenues, or increasing borrowing. Riverside has made difficult and sometimes unpopular choices, such as cutting non-public safety budgets by an average of 25%. But those decisions helped the County protect its reserve fund while ensuring the safety of its residents.

To help reduce expenditures, the County had been negotiating with its bargaining units to increase the share of pension contributions made by the employees themselves. The negotiations resulted in little progress and subsequently the County imposed a new contract. That contract established not only a second pension tier for new hires, but it also increased the employee share of pension contributions. Now, all employees will pay the entire employee share of the pension costs by 2014 – where under the previous contract the County paid the entire employee share for any employee with more than 5 years with the County.

For his work in Riverside, and especially for his efforts as the President of the California State Association of Counties, PublicCEO is proud to announce that John Tavaglione is the recipient of our 2011 County Official of the Year.

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