TEMPLETON — The Templeton Community Services District Board of Directors approved the Evers Sports Park Improvement Plan and adjustments to the District’s wage schedule that will lead to raises starting in January of 2021.

Re-elected Directors Navid Fardanesh, Pam Jardini and Debra Logan took the Oath of Office at the beginning of the 3-plus-hour meeting. The Board also elected Logan as Board president and Wayne Peterson as vice president and thanked former President Geoff English for his service. The Board reorganizes yearly.

Templeton Fire Department had a pinning ceremony for Kyle Root, its first full-time paid engineer.

BrightView’s Caroline Bingham presented the draft Evers Sports Park Improvement Plan to the Board.

“It has a lot of potential,” Bingham said of the park. “We could see how much and how well-loved it is just by the people who were there and the way everyone talks about it.”

BrightView’s detailed plan provided suggestions for adding function where needed and enhancing the site’s existing features to maximize their potential.

Evers Sports Park is located at 38 Gibson St. in Templeton. Amenities include restrooms, parking lot, two softball fields, a soccer field available only during soccer season, field lights and grass space. The draft plan was formed after BrightView made visits to the park, met with Templeton CSD staff and reviewed TCSD’s Recreation Master Plan.

The plan identified eight site opportunities — entry, play, plazas, parking, gathering area, circulation, lighting and fitness — and provides detailed information, including projected costs, on each in the overall concept design.

The concept design listed 13 specific improvement projects — arrival walk ($145,000), sloped walk ($38,000), parking area 1 ($134,000) and 2 ($144,000), arrival plaza ($260,000), field plaza 1 ($55,000) and 2 ($35,000), exploration playground ($559,000), perimeter walk ($269,000), field turf replacement ($680,000), sportsfield lights ($153,000), fitness area ($89,000) and flex field and flex space ($455,000).

Each improvement project included detailed information, photos and graphics. The plan included an opinion of probable costs for each improvement broken down by line item.

The draft Evers Sports Park Improvement Plan prioritized each project — high, moderate and low. The scoring metric for project prioritization includes five areas — community project, health, safety and welfare, cost, constructability and schedule.

Sloped walk, arrival walk and perimeter walk received high priority scores. Sports field lights, field plaza 2, field plaza 1, exploration playground, parking areas 1 and 2, arrival plaza and fitness area were in the moderate priority. Flex field and flex space and field turf replacement received low priority scores.

After Directors approved the plan, 5-0, TCSD General Manager Jeff Briltz said District had money available to get the perimeter, sloped and arrival walks and the exploration playground elements of the plan completed. Directors asked Briltz to provide more information on the budget and timelines.

“I like the plan long-term and I like the different projects and how they are prioritized,” Fardanesh said. “I think we have enough money in the budget to make a big dent on those prioritization items and make a big difference relatively quickly. I think it’s a fantastic opportunity to improve the park. It’s going to be great for the community.”

After an hour of discussion, Directors adopted a compensation philosophy and a resolution that made adjustments to the District’s wage schedule based on a 2020 compensation study that found some positions in the District were in many instances well below the median average in comparison to 10 similar agencies in the area.

The completed study was presented to Directors in August and staff was directed to develop a phased-in wage adjustment plan. The study found that TCSD was underpaying its staff — up to 26% below median one instance.

The first round of multi-year, phased-in adjustments become effective Jan. 1, 2021, and was previously accounted for in the 2020-21 fiscal year budget.

For 2021-22 and beyond, additional funds will need to be programmed for the Solid Waste Fund, Administration Fund and Parks and Recreation Fund to continue to meet the increases.

The estimated annual cost of the initial adjustment was $103,190.

TCSD staff said it had been at least 13 years since the last compensation study. These studies determine each job’s market value, benchmark salary ranges, propose equitable salary ranges for managers, and ensure internal parity. To remain competitive, it is recommended that organizations conduct compensation studies every three years.

All five Directors were in total agreement that staff was being grossly underpaid. Not all agreed that now was the right time for the wage adjustment.

“We are underpaying our employees and that concerns me,” Logan said. “It’s not just employees. These are assets. We delayed the study by a year and I do not wish to see us kick the can down the road.”

Director Jardini was the only dissenting vote on the compensation issue, stating she’d like to wait and revisit when they begin working on the 2021-22 fiscal year budget.

Jardini knows the money for the current fiscal year was budgeted. Her concern was with the following years. She feared the wage increases could lead to layoffs if the District could not continue supporting the adjustments.

“I think our employees are severely underpaid. It is very apparent from the study that was done,” Jardini said. “I don’t see why waiting just six months until we go into the budget for 21-22 and see if we can actually afford to keep these salary increases going without having to layoff staff.”

All four of the votes related to the compensation study, including one for the general manager’s salary, were approved 4-1.

Directors also approved, 5-0, $50,000 to replace a pump and column pipe for the Creekside Deep Well.

The next TCSD Board of Directors meeting will be in January of 2021.

Getting through this together, Paso Robles