Margarita “Peggy” Price is the new director of the county Social Services Department, the County Executive Office announced Wednesday.
Price, a county Social Services employee for some 19 years, was picked by the Board of Supervisors and her first day in her new position is Friday.
It is estimated that some 5,500 county residents benefit from the In-Home Supportive Services.
In addition, about 4,800 families get help from Social Services through the CalWORKs program, a state program that includes cash assistance and other services to help those in poverty gain skills to find employment and get off of assistance.
“The board is very pleased that Ms. Price accepted the position. Ms. Price brings a wealth of knowledge and professionalism to this position,” a county press release reads.
Price has a master’s degree in public administration and a bachelor’s degree in business management.
She replaces James Semmes, who headed the department for about 27 years.
Semmes, who retired in October 2009, has stayed in the position as a contract worker ever since.
His retirement and subsequent contract worker status made him eligible to draw a pension while working in a taxpayer-funded position.
This practice, commonly referred to as “double dipping,” has its critics, though it isn’t uncommon across the country.
Police chiefs, county officers and school superintendents have been reported as retiring only to get a similar position as consultants.
But Ray Castillo, chairman of the county Board of Supervisors, noted that keeping Semmes around was the right thing to do.
Moreover, when asked about why it took so long to replace Semmes, Castillo explained that Semmes is very knowledgeable in the field and “right about the time he retired there (were) a lot of project cuts, program reductions and program expansions … a lot of changes.”
Castillo added that Semmes was the best person to deal with the changes and the cuts.
But “now things have begun to stabilize,” said Castillo and added “this is a good time to transition from a temporary administrator to a (permanent) administrator.”
Staff Writer Alejandro Dávila can be reached at 760-337-3445 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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