Fire Safe Council OK’s interim CEO contract |

Fire Safe Council OK’s interim CEO contract

Council delays vote to finalize contract

The Fire Safe Council of Nevada County has approved an interim contract for its CEO but will not vote to renew her contract formally until August or later, citing the need to first address concerns raised regarding a current audit of the organization’s finances.

In a public meeting Thursday, the council’s board members confirmed their CEO’s interim contract but did not yet formally approve a three-year contract renewal for the council’s Executive Director and CEO Jamie Jones, who has held the role since the nonprofit parted ways with former CEO Joanne Drummond in 2018.

The board will instead likely vote on Jones’ contract at its next Board of Directors meeting on Aug. 26, council members said.

The contract renewal the board is considering would grant Jones an annual salary of $140,000, not including benefits, with a clause stipulating an annual 5% increase in the CEO’s salary, contingent upon “acceptable performance,” per language used in the contract.

Drummond was paid $84,609 in 2017, her last full year on the job, and received an additional $17,868 in other forms of compensation, per the council’s tax returns.

While several board members expressed support for moving ahead with a vote to finalize Jones’ contract quickly, a couple of members were more cautious, arguing that it would be better to wait until concerns expressed about the organization’s finances had been thoroughly answered.

Since June 24, an independent accounting firm has been auditing the council upon the nonprofit’s own request, Jones said. It is not clear when the final audit will be published, although the board anticipates that the accounting firm will have a preliminary report on the audit’s results available by the August meeting, she added.

On Thursday, the board acknowledged having also received a letter last month from Nevada County attorney Susan Kay McGuire, alleging a substantial level of budgetary mismanagement on the part of the council. The board did not elaborate as to the particular allegations raised in McGuire’s letter, and declined to state what specifically had prompted the letter, although Jones emphasized that no litigation has been filed against the council over the letter’s allegations.

Nevada County, which provides regular grant funding to the council, has inquired as to the accuracy of the letter’s allegations, and it is expected that the ongoing audit will provide answers as to these concerns, Jones said.

During Thursday’s meeting, directors Eric Trygg and Sue Hoek, the latter of whom is also a county supervisor, both said that they had not been given a chance to review the interim contract before Thursday’s meeting. Trygg, who voted in the minority in opposing the interim contract, said the council had not done due diligence in terms of publicly answering questions about its finances.

“We don’t want to give the wrong impression… that we’re giving a pay increase despite the ongoing situation with the county and the letters we’ve gotten from this lawyer,” Trygg said.

Director Donn Thane and some of the other board members disagreed with Trygg, saying the terms of the CEO’s contract had already been voted on at a previous council meeting, and that there was no reason to revisit this issue.

Trygg argued that it would be a mistake to rush a vote renewing the contract, given the ongoing audit and public scrutiny of the council’s budget.

“You’re putting the cart before the horse with this one,” he said, arguing that approving the interim contract was premature before casting his no vote.

“Well that’s an opinion,” Thane countered, representing the view of a majority of the members who agreed that the terms of the interim contract had already been discussed.

After some deliberation, the board approved the interim contract via majority vote but agreed to wait to finalize the three-year renewal until the preliminary results of the audit were public, which Jones said would hopefully be the case by the August meeting.

Stephen Wyer is a staff writer with The Union. He can be reached at

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