June 13, 1997

Honorable William L. Gordon, Presiding Judge
Santa Barbara County Superior Court
1100 Anacapa Street
Santa Barbara, CA 93121-1107

County Administrator's Response to the 1996-97 Grand Jury Interim Final Report on Disability Retirements

Dear Judge Gordon:

Please express my appreciation to the Grand Jury for it's report entitled Disability Retirements. The following are my responses to the findings and recommendations in that report pertaining to the County Administrator.

GRAND JURY FINDING 1: Unlike other counties in California such as Alameda, Ventura and San Bernardino, the County of Santa Barbara does not have a formal light-duty/return-to-work policy.

Response: I agree with the finding. However, as noted in the Grand Jury's report, several departments have enacted light duty/return to work policies. Whether a formal County-wide policy would contain decentralized aspects due to the diverse nature of County departmental functions or would be a "one size fits all" policy is yet to be determined. (Please see response to Recommendation 1 regarding development of a County-wide policy.)

GRAND JURY RECOMMENDATION 1: The County Administrator should form a task force to develop a County-wide formal light-duty/return to work policy.

Response: The recommendation has been implemented. On April 11, 1997 (before the date of the Grand Jury's report), I formed a project team managed by Jayne Brechwald of Health Care Services to develop a County-wide formal light duty/return to work policy for my review by November 1997.

GRAND JURY FINDING 2: The Occupational Health Council has not met since February 2, 1995.

Response: I agree with the finding.

GRAND JURY RECOMMENDATION 2: The County Administrator should evaluate the Occupational Health Council to determine its effectiveness.


Response: The recommendation has been implemented. I have directed the Project Manager of the Light Duty/Return to Work Project to evaluate the effectiveness of using an Occupation Health Council or other policy body as part of her report due to me in November 1997. (Please see response to Recommendation 1.)

GRAND JURY FINDING 4: Employees of Santa Barbara County, specifically those applying for disability retirement, are not being well served by the retirement system.

Response: I respectfully disagree with the finding. The retirement system is independently audited annually by a reputable outside accounting firm and has been found to be financially sound. The Grand Jury's report focused on the Disability Retirement portion of the retirement system, identified a number of issues which need to be addressed and made positive recommendations to help address them. Although, the implementation of the Grand Jury's recommendations may well enhance a number of the disability retirement aspects of the County's retirement system, I do not agree that a conclusive case has been made that the "Employees of Santa Barbara County, specifically those applying for disability retirement, are not being well served by the retirement system."

RECOMMENDATION 4: The County Administrator should implement a Performance Audit on the Retirement System in order to determine if SBCERS is an effective and cost efficient retirement benefit for the employees of Santa Barbara County.

Response: The recommendation will be analyzed further after the report from next year's Grand Jury on this subject has been submitted and reviewed. (Grand Jury Finding 3 and Recommendation 3 (copy attached) requests the 1997-98 Grand Jury to ask certain questions (copy attached) of the Retirement Administrator and the members of the Board of Retirement.) In the meantime, our office will obtain comparative data on costs/benefits from the California Public Employees Retirement System.

Sincerely,



Michael F. Brown
County Administrator


Honorable William L. Gordon, Presiding Judge
June 13, 1997
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