Board of Supervisors June 5, 2012 Election Day
Under Announcements Sheriff John Evans announced they discovered the identify of a body found in Sierra County in 2003 by the use of DNA. The body was a missing subject from Eureka since 1998. This was the first successful use of DNA for identification purposes in the county. The Community Service Patrol Officer Kimberly Davis has been helpful in determining the identity of a suspect responsible for a string of burglaries in the Sierra City area.
Van Maddox reported the Bond for the “side fund” is done with an interest rate of 4.6%; the Board appeared to know what he was talking about.
Everyone pledged allegiance to the flag of the United States of America. The first order of business was to call the County Service Area Board of Directors into order. They immediately adopted a resolution setting the CSA preliminary budget for 2012-13 by unanimous vote.
The County Supervisors then reconvened and adopted a resolution setting the County and special revenue fund’s preliminary budged for 2012/13 unanimously. They then segwayed into a discussion about the Finance Committee’s next meeting attempting to set priorities for them, as Supervisor Dave Goicoechea expounded on his desire for the Finance Committee to make the first or second priority a revamping of the benefit and Pers system into a two tier system and increase employees contributions to their benefits, he was politely interrupted by a member of the Media who asked, “I’m confused, what Item are you on now? Supervisor Goicoechea said they were still on Item 2, however the annoying Media person explained that they had already voted on Item 2, hence it was over and what they were discussing was not on the Agenda. After County Counsel explained the objection was a procedural one, they attempted to thwart normal procedure, finally gave in and accepted that a potential Brown Act violation was occurring in broad daylight and decided to place the direction to the Finance Committee on the next agenda. I was happy as it was apparent employees and or the Union would certainly want to hear the discussion directions from the Supervisors to the Finance Committee on their benefits/retirement plans.
Health and Human Services Director Janice Maddox had another successful appearance before the Board gaining approval to initiate the Child Welfare Services/Case Management System computer purchase, to reapply for Title X funds to provide screening programs for cancer, sexual diseases and family planning, Sierra county is one of the few rural counties that have the medical resources in place to provide this service. Even an item pulled from the consent agenda regarding hiring a Public Health Nurse was approved after Director Maddox explained the law required a PHN and she was looking into possibly hiring part time as necessary to contain costs.
At 10 a.m. Mr. Joe Arata made his annual Public Hearing appearance pleading for relief from the Solid Waste Fees for a residential property with a structure on it in Sierra City. Mr. Arata plead financial hardship saying he had to use funds intended for his grandchild and he shouldn’t be assessed solid waste as the residence is not occupied. Assessor Laura Marshall had clearly outlined the issue in a letter to Mr. Arata stating after a visit to his property, “you showed me around the interior where you pointed out the brand new woodstove, brand new kitchen sink, and the brand new cook stove – all items that are customarily found in a single family residence.”
Marshall also explained Mr. Arata has the option to request a zoning change to declare the building storage only. However Mr. Arata chooses not to do this as he fears if or when he decides to have it residential the permit requirements would be to onerous. It appears Mr. Arata chooses to not choose an option that would relieve him of the solid waste fee assessment responsibility, and the Board voted unanimously to deny the appeal.
At 10:30 Planner Andrew Winberry stepped up to the podium to present information on a Public Hearing for a General Plan Amendment to a small 0.28 parcel in Sattley from Community Commercial to Rural Residential. A Resolution was passed allowing this to occur with a preliminary environmental assessment exempt under CEAQ guidelines.
A 10:45 Item
involved the renewal of a contract with the Town of Truckee Kenneling Services
with increased rates and the option of another contract with Plumas County for
kenneling and related care services for domestic animals at a lesser cost. The
discussion quickly became about cats, and how much Dave Coicoechea loves cats,
especially feral cats that help maintain his barn environment, cats that often
are replaced with new feral cats because of a coyote population. An attempt was
made to put the whole issue back under Sheriff’s John authority as no one
wanted to make the motion to go with the cheaper option because of a minor
difference. Well, not minor to the animal or pet lovers in the audience because
Truckee is a “no kill” kennel, hence the higher cost, and Plumas will kill (I
mean euthanasia, but is there a difference really?) an unclaimed animal after
Too sad for some to think about.
Strangely the whole discussion centered on cats, and dogs were rarely mentioned although a member of the media asked if they killed dogs too, and they do. So a resolution was passed to have contracts with both facilities and the feral cats would go to Plumas first at the Sheriff’s discretion. It was a sad time. Supervisor Lee Adams voted No, as he could not bring himself to vote for a kill policy with cats or dogs.
Assessor Laura Marshall again took the floor to discuss the Solid Waste generation factors for residential and non-residential parcels. Wayne DeLisle made his oft-scheduled appearance to debate the constitutional aspects of Solid Waste Fees and although he was allowed 15 minutes rather than the usual 3 min comment period he didn’t get to his point and had to stop.
Mr. Buckbee Appreciated by Chair Peter Huebner
At noon a Resolution of Appreciation for Jim Buckbee, Sierra County Road Maintenance Supervisor was presented. Supervisor Heubner was preceded by Public Works Director Tim Beals who recalled when Jim began his work in July of 1981 and earned $6.00 an hour. Jim will be retiring in August; the Resolution outlined the many aspects of Jim’s work and volunteerism over the years. However, it did not mention that he was the Poet Laureate of the Road Department and found National fame through NPR reading his poem on a snowy winter’s night with an NPR ride along. A highlight of county residents memories.
A huge discussion resulted over an Item proposing to allow the City of Loyalton use radios that have been obtained through a Grant. The only problem is the Grant requires specific use by trained CERT Certified Emergency Response Teams and the radios are to be kept for an emergency when CERT teams are needed during any large emergency and letting fire departments use them on a regular basis would be a violation of the Grant and would result in loss of the equipment and future grants. It was decided the City of Loyalton would be allowed to borrow the radios for a short specified time but clearly they had to be returned as soon as they were able to obtain their own. Supervisor Scott Schlefstein said he believed he would be able to use some Service Area funds to help the situation.
The low point of the day came during a discussion regarding an item to create a “Firewall” between the elected County Auditor/Treasurer Van Maddox and his wife the newly appointed Director of Health and Human Services, Janice Maddox.
Chairman Peter Huebner presented the item with an offer to have a county consultant on the phone to answer any hard questions. The Resolution was motioned and seconded but when Director Tim Beals took the podium to ask a couple of technical questions about the proposed “Firewall”, Auditor/Treasurer/Tax Collector Maddox suddenly cursed and said “I’m tired of all this bullpucky (pucky wasn’t the word) it’s getting too expensive”. Whereas Director Beals left the room, he quickly returned and took a seat in the audience. Meanwhile Supervisor Lee Adams took Maddox to task suggesting his outbursts and vile language had no place in the Boardroom. The Board mumbled around for a while and then passed the Resolution as presented, during the vote, Maddox packed up all his stuff and left the room saying loudly to the Board, “you need to control your employee”. Which left the audience wondering was he talking about himself or Tim? Well since Van is an employee of the people by election, he had to be talking about Tim and employee appointed by the Board. So this reporter wondered what Tim had done wrong. Are county employees not allowed to ask a question of the Board? It was not a starring moment for anyone. I was told later the Board received an apology but I wondered if Tim got one too, I hope so.
I almost forgot the most disappointing action of the day. The Supes developed a Social Media policy, not allowing county computers to access Facebook, Tweeters or the like. Supervisor Scott Schlefstein opposed the move stating he was familiar with all these ways to communicate and had never experienced a problem or virus. Local law enforcement would like to be able to access FB to keep track of certain beings, but they can do that on their Smartphones. Supervisor Lee Adams said he believed the rural character of the county and its residents should be maintained and we didn’t need to access that new fangled stuff. We got along without it and we still should leave it. Editor Don Russell was happy that county employees would no longer be able to read his cutting edge competitor The Sierra County Prospect online. An SCP spokesperson disagreed with Adams saying our rural community was exactly the situation that needed social media during fire, floods and other emergencies to communicate and update situations and this was a plot by Russell to harass his rival news source. Everybody returned to calmness and a sense of serenity when Supervisor Goicoechea stated, “I knew the return of tin cans and string would come”.