As reported last week, the January 28 meeting of the Board of Supervisors was a marathon. This is a continuation of that meeting.
The issue that received the most public input was, of course, the consideration of a new county ordinance on land use for marijuana growing. This issue was reported last week. The Board did consider additional issues on January 28, reported here, and the Board cancelled the meeting for Tuesday, February 4.
Pat Minturn, Public Works Director, reported on the state’s designation of a California drought. The basic information is not news to any of us, but it is still shocking to realize that we are halfway through the rainy season.
In an average year we would have received 20 inches of rain; this season we have received 3 inches. Minturn expressed concern that so far, the drought declaration has only encouraged ‘flexibility and creativity’ by state agencies.
He believes that concrete steps are required, including such things as a state-supported Drought Water Bank, like the one created in 1990. The state at that time bought water from willing sellers and sold it to buyers. Minturn expected that water resources controlled by the State Water Resources Control Board will be curtailed under the ‘first in time, first in right’ doctrine.
Any water users under the Central Valley Project will be governed by current priority standards: first priority for fish and wildlife; second priority to provide for water users with pre-1914 water rights; third priority for domestic use; and fourth priority for agriculture.
Minturn expects that at best, 60% of historic use of Central Valley Project water for domestic water distribution will be available, and none will be available for agriculture. Ground water resources will not be affected by these decisions although they are, of course, affected by the drought itself.
In other news, Sheriff Tom Bosenko and Pat Minturn, Public Works Director, reported that the county has received from the California Board of State and Community Corrections a $20 million competitive award for the construction of a new Adult Rehabilitation Center.
The funding is provided through state lease-revenue bonds, and the Board has taken several actions over the last year to assemble the county’s proposal, including budgeting County matching funds, guaranteeing title to the site and approving a staffing plan.
The facility will be located on Breslauer Lane. It will be a 64-bed medium security facility, providing dormitory style jail beds along with classroom and project space for rehabilitation activities. The project is expected to address the current shortage of beds in the main jail (a maximum security facility) , and to reduce recidivism in prisoners. The Board accepted the award, formalized the project budget, authorized a Request For Proposals for architectural services, and authorized studies pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act for the project.
Supervisors Leonard Moty and Bill Schappell and Sheriff Bosenko spoke clearly about how this program, in concert with other Corrections Realignment programs, are reorganizing criminal justice services from a failed state model to new services that should reduce the impact of crime and criminals on the County.
The Board approved an ordinance that provides that the County’s Chief Probation Officer will be appointed by the Board of Supervisors, rather than the Shasta County Superior Court judge for the juvenile court. The ordinance is the product of a collaborative effort between the Superior Court and the County Executive Officer. It is hoped that by aligning the authority to hire and fire with the authority to budget for juvenile hall and probation staff, the previous difficult relationships over probation issues will be improved.
Finally, the Board acted on various items related to Eastern Shasta County:
- The Board approved an agreement with the Inter-Mountain Fair Heritage Foundation to manage the annual Intermountain Fair. The Fair has operated since 1918. Until 2010-11, county fairs were supported by State funds in addition to admission, concession and rental fees. The non-profit Heritage Foundation will receive an advance payment of approximately $350,000 to operate the fair in 2014. This is the remaining fund balance for the fair. The Foundation will attempt to maintain the fairgrounds and continue to operate the fair, increasing the revenues to replace the approximately $200,000 that the state provided in the past. The fair receives more than 30,000 visitors each year and brings in over $3 million in spending in the local area.
- The Board received a written report from outside consultants on the needs assessment and preliminary planning for a new library to replace the aging Shasta County Burney Library. The report recommends a building of roughly 5500 square feet (the current library is 2000 square feet). It would have space for community meetings and activities, and would be planned to take full advantage of technological access to learning resources. It would require $3.5 million. The Board accepted the report, and took further action on this issue in the next item.
- The Board received a report on the Hatchet Ridge Community Benefit fund from Larry Lees, County Executive Officer. The Fund is received from Hatchet Ridge Wind, LLC, that developed the windmill project and has included a $1 million initial payment and a commitment to $100,000 each additional year for 20 years. The county has received $1.4 million to date. The county has in the past approved funds for a Tourism Information Center in Burney and funds for the consultants who prepared the report received earlier today on the Burney Library. The fund has a current balance of $1.26 million. Lees proposed a set of priorities: 1) Public Safety; 2) Healthcare; 3) Learning; and 4) Community Promotion. Lees then proposed specific expenditures for each priority. 1) Public Safety: $100,000 per fiscal year for each of 3 years for an additional sheriff’s deputy position in Burney plus $50,000 for start-up vehicle costs for this position; and up to $100,000 annually for additional public safety purposes, to be specified in later budgets. 2) Healthcare: $400,000 for the capital campaign for Mayers Memorial Hospital in the eastern county, for a new building and seismic improvements to the existing building. 3) Learning: $400,000 for the Burney Library Project capital campaign proposed in the consultant report considered above. This amount was an additional $100,000 above Lees’ proposal. 4) $50,000 to the Intermountain Fair Heritage Foundation for their fair project. The Board adopted Lees’ recommendations, with the addition to the library fund, and directed that grant agreements be prepared. The Board stressed that the hospital and library funds were to be ‘last in’ funding, accessed only if the full amount of the capital project was raised. There was some community pushback from eastern county residents that the Board is using one-time funds for ongoing expenses (the sheriff’s office) and that the proposals did not include community discussion and input.
Catherine Camp is currently retired. During her career, she worked as a policy and budget analyst for the California Assembly and California Senate, in health and human services fields. She worked as a policy analyst and advocate for California’s public mental health system. Early in her career, she worked in the Community Action and Head Start programs in Shasta County.