County extends time frame for Probation Department study

Although he confirmed that the county would extend the time limit for an outside management study of the Butte County Probation Department, Chief Administrative Officer John Blacklock said that the scope of the much-ballyhooed study hasn’t changed.

“We’re not changing what we want to examine,” he said, “we’d just like more time to get it done.”

Even so, the extension will cost the county an additional $10,000, according to county documents. The study originally cost $25,000.

The county commissioned the management study after repeated employee complaints about the department chief, Helen Harberts. Rudy Jenkins, executive director of the Butte County Employees Association, confirmed rumors that Harberts has been the subject of a flurry of complaints about her “heavy-handed” management style.

“Things are pretty bad over there,” Jenkins said. “I think that in the last six months two people have just walked off the job.”

Blacklock said that the study, which is being performed by DMG Maximus of Sacramento, is “proceeding as intended” but declined to say more about it.

“I won’t get into the details or findings at this time,” he said. “That wouldn’t be appropriate.”

The study was originally supposed to be completed by August. As part of the consent agenda at its July 10 meeting, the Board of Supervisors approved the study to extend into September.

While her department is being examined, Harberts is on administrative leave. Her assistant, Steve Ellen, is now running the department.