The September 10 Board meeting began with an update on the Clover fire, which exploded Monday and has destroyed or damaged 110 buildings and by Wednesday had consumed roughly 7,000 acres.The Board committed to identifying whatever help the county could provide to persons affected by the fire, and indicated that damage is also extensive to county resources like guard rails, a solid waste landfill and utility and road infrastructure.
The fire was still only 40 percent contained by the end of the day Tuesday and is expected to rise to the level that prompts a state declaration of emergency.
Thoughts and prayers were shared with those affected.
There was a lot of conversation about marijuana and other drugs on this Board day, although no specific actions were taken. Citizens came to the public comment period to discuss huge marijuana groves, alcohol- and drug-impaired driver, and meth-addicted vagrants threatening neighborhoods.
Supervisor Leonard Moty reported on a meeting with the California Water Resources Control Board. The Shasta Supervisors, along with other counties, have complained that the state Water Resources Control Board is reluctant to respond to complaints of improper water use by marijuana growers because of the danger to inspectors.
Supervisor Moty reported that the Control Board staff response to calls for fair enforcement of water rules, for ranchers, homeowners, and growers was weak. At a regional meeting Control Board staff continued to waffle on enforcement, despite offers by the county to dispatch law enforcement support if requested.
Finally Supervisor Pam Giacomini and Sheriff Tom Bosenko reported on a recent meeting with the federal Acting Drug Czar and a variety of state and county representatives to demonstrate the magnitude of grows in Shasta and Trinity counties. The meeting, which included an overflight of areas where grows exist, requested federal resources to mitigate the impact on this area.
Clearly, this topic will remain on the agenda in the near future.
Issues where the Board did take action had little controversy. The Sheriff received approval to continue work on a funding application for construction of a medium security Adult Rehabilitation Facility with 64 beds , proposed for the Breslauer/Westside Road area. The Board has previously allocated funds for architectural and program studies and needs assessments for such a facility. The final step is completion of a Real Estate Due Diligence package. The funding application will be submitted to the state in October.
Sheriff Bosenko reported that while the county has maximum security commitment facilities at the jail, and work release programs, it has no medium security facility for sentenced inmates in dormitory-style residences. The new facility could also work in conjunction with the work release, or minimum security, population. Approval was unanimous.
The Board conducted a public hearing to implement a provision relating to the Williamson Act. This Act is state law to discourage unnecessary and premature conversion of farmland to other uses. Nearly 200,000 acres in Shasta County are covered by voluntary contracts with landowners that reduce property tax assessments for conserved land. For decades, the State has provided subventions to counties to replace the lost property tax revenues. In 2012-13 the county received no State subvention, but lost more than $200,000 in property tax revenues.
In this case, where the State subvention is less than half the foregone revenue, State law permits the county to adopt a resolution reducing the Williamson Act landowner’s tax savings by 10 percent and the term of the landowner’s contract to conserve is shortened from ten years to nine. In other words, the county would recoup a part of the lost revenues and the landowner would lose a part of the benefit of Williamson Act conservation. It would appear, however, that the benefits of Williamson Act contracts for landowners are still worth pursuing. And this issue provided another example of reduced budgeting at the state level.
There were no public comments on this proposal, and it was adopted unanimously.
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.