Have any of you watched the Board of Supervisors on Community Access television Channel 11 on a Tuesday evening? They lead into the broadcast by noting that some content may not be suitable for all viewers! Someone at Channel 11 must go to Supervisors meetings that are a good deal racier than the ones I have attended.
The Board considered a request from a large contingent of residents from the area served by the Jones Valley Water Community Advisory Board to support a study of the feasibility of separating the county’s Water Agency from the Department of Public Works. Residents are unhappy about how the Elk Trail neighborhood obtained a $10 million water system that was available for hookup at the end of 2012. Residents said the water is available and high quality, but they believe the county Water Agency delayed development, discouraged funding sources, and was less than candid in responses to complaints. Arguments included a belief that water is too important to be simply a part of a larger department that includes responsibility for roads, sewers, buildings, bridges, drainage, landfill, parks and other requirements. Some believe that too much power is concentrated in the hands of the Public Works Director, Pat Minturn.
Board members varied in their responses. A central concern was that the Water Agency was folded into Public Works in order to save money and improve efficiency; Supervisors continue to support the notion of limited government and the current structure supports that. Supervisors were also concerned that much of the impetus for the request has historically been animosity specifically against Director Pat Minturn. Supervisor Baugh, for instance, said he was unwilling to make a structural or organizational change based on problems with an individual. All the Supervisors were concerned about the potential cost of a study; more concerned about the cost of reorganization. Several also expressed a belief that generally, the Public Works Department is well managed. In the end,the Supervisors asked the County Executive Officer Larry Lees to explore the issues raised by the speakers, to “hear the other side of the story”, and to report back to the Board on the issues raised.
A second contentious community squabble was heard when a resident from Fall River Mills came to notify the Supervisors of a complaint and possible lawsuit by ratepayers in the Fall River Mills Community Services District against the Shasta County Local Agency Formation Commission. Residents claim that LAFCO has not completed the analyses required by state law for the community to expand its sphere of influence and services. The LAFCO is a growth management entity charged by state law with doing the analysis and planning to inform the development of services by towns and special districts. LAFCO identifies a sphere of influence as the area where a town or special district might expand its boundary or service area. LAFCO can also act to change a town or district boundary based on the sphere of influence. Generally speaking, district lines determine who gets specific services (such as fire response), who pays which taxes (such as utility assessments), and where development can occur (because sewer or fire services are available, for instance). The LAFCO is not a county department. Commissioners include Supervisors, City Council Members, Special District Representatives and a Public Member.
The Supervisors did not act to join the complaint. However, by consensus, they requested the County Executive Officer and County Counsel to explore allegations that LAFCO is not completing the analyses required to determine the best service arrangement by various special districts.
It was a relief for the Supervisors to receive an upbeat annual report on the Shasta Public Library System from Redding Community Services Director Kim Niemer. She reported that generally, the state of the library system is strong. In 2012, there were more than 114,000 registered borrowers, up from more than 109,000 the year before. 610,000 items circulated, an 8% increase from the year before. New facilities and expanded hours were one reason for the increase. The library is also proud of new software that makes the library’s holding more accessible and more interesting. The library’s meeting rooms have also been extensively used.
Catherine Camp is currently retired. She served as a Consultant to the California Senate Budget Committee in 2001-02, reviewing Social Services, Employment Development, Aging, Community Services, Alcohol and Drug Programs, Rehabilitation and Child Support budgets. From 1989-2000, Catherine was Executive Director for the California Mental Health Directors Association. During that period, Catherine staffed the county mental health system’s restructuring of public mental health through Realignment of community and long term care programs from the state to the county, transfer of the management of specialty mental health Medi-Cal services to those counties that agreed to provide them, development of risk mechanisms for consortia of small counties, and advocacy and policy analysis for the operation of public mental health programs throughout the state. Her prior experience includes Executive Director to the California-Nevada Community Action Association, Principal Consultant to the Assembly Human Services Policy Committee, and Director of Community Action and Head Start programs in Shasta County.