The Sierra County Board of Supervisors was called to order by Chair Peter Huebner and with a minimum of flurry quickly began changing the agenda around. Moving to Items 16 A, B and C which involved agreements with the various labor units of county employees and when the official start date of the increased contributions by employees to Pers and Health Insurance would begin. According to Auditor Van Maddox there was a glich in the passing of information between the County and the Union as to the start date. Fortunately everyone was inclined to not start an argument and to complete negotiations and it was decided to begin deductions on November 4th. Much later in the day the introduction and first reading of two Ordinances amending health insurance benefits and payments into PERS by County Supervisors was addressed, the first readings passed with only Supervisor Schlefstein voting No on the health insurance. The County Supervisors being elected will not have to pony up any contribution to their own retirement and health insurance until the beginning of their next term, and current Supervisor Elects, Roen and Beard get to go through their first four year term unscathed by the new rules. So really no Supervisor will have any increased cost until 2015, but when it comes to county employees, apparently what’s good for the goose isn’t good for the gander as their burden of cost began on the November 4, 2012.
A short intermission between items on the Agenda was requested by District 1 Supervisor Lee Adams. He gave a heartfelt thanks to Dan Farrington of Downieville for his alert response to a strange smell in the night. Dan had awoken and smelled some smoke, but it just wasn’t ordinary fireplace smoke thought Dan and he got up and looked around the house. Still finding nothing Dan opened his door and looked up and down Main Street and realized the smoke was coming from the rear of the gas station building. He quickly called 9-1-1 for the fire department and with a fire extinguisher ran to help quell the fire in the Laundromat section of the building. Dan’s action saved the town from a potentially disastrous fire. The audience applauded Dan after Supervisor Adams’ statement.
An addendum to the Master Agreement for funding Firewise Community Projects to fund a $3,100.00 chipping project in Pike City was approved unaminously.
Auditor Maddox explained the intricacies of charging interest to funds within the County investment pool, saying the methodology used by auditing allowed various funds to run short until revested by income, allowing departments to continue working while waiting for refunding from grants or taxes to arrive. (At least I think that is what he said.) He clearly stated the Road Fund was independent and did not have the risk of shortfall from investment funding. (I think)
A long, long discussion revolved around a proposal from mintierharnish planning consultants of “not to exceed $20,000” to prepare an analysis of the draft initiative submitted to Sierra County by the Plumas/Sierra Counties’ Citizens Alliance for Property Rights. The idea was to assess its implications for the existing Sierra County General Plan and Zoning Code as well as its implications for the proposed revisions to the SCGPZC as is currently in process. Approximately 350 pages of a working draft of the Zoning Codes has been prepared by county staff.
Supervisor Adams suggested they were putting the “cart before the horse”, saying the initiative was just a proposal and he didn’t feel comfortable interfering with the public’s rights, until it hits the ballot he didn’t think the Board should do anything, he concluded, an analysis was really premature never mind spending $20,000 when money was very tight.
Supervisor Goicoechea agreed, “especially when we’re worried about $100 and going to $20,000, just too much”. He also didn’t want to be accused of subverting the process and doesn’t want to rush to judgement.
Supervisor Nunes said he didn’t want to be helping proponents to draft and fix flaws in the initiative, he was only concerned that voters understand what they’re voting for.
Supervisor Schlefstein said he agrees with everyone, $20,000 is a lot of money and hiring a consultant may be premature.
Adams then added the analysis has to be done before the public votes if the iniative qualifies but now is premature and he doesn’t want the Board to be seen as “meddling”.
County Counsel tried to warn the Board that dealing with things that affect the General Plan not as simple as other issues, and potential for problems is deeper. Where then Goicoechea jumped in saying, “people vote on something that causes problems for politicians is not a bad idea”.
It was finally decided that since Planner Brandon Pangman had done extensive work on the General Plan Zoning Code updates and reviewed the possible implications if the initiative was enacted that Pangman should bring back a complete report for review at the December 4 meeting and the consultant’s proposal would be put on hold for decision.
Jim Johnston a member of the Sierra County Fish and Wildlife Commission lead the charge to convince the Board of Supes to reconsider their previous denial of $5,000 to purchase two satellite collars to fit on Elk in Sierra County. A letter written by Chair of the Commission Bob Latta in September outlined the reasons for the request and why it is important to track the emergence of Elk in the Sierra Valley. See letter here Latta Letter .
Johnston brought Fish & Game Biologist Terri Weist to answer the Board’s questions as to why this is a reasonable thing to do. Supervisor Goicoechea referred to the tracking collars as “toys” saying, “toys are fun, biologists buy toys to use toys.” Weist corrected him saying, “we refer to them as tools.” Not to be outdone, Goicoechea suggested collaring Mountain Messenger Editor Don Russell saying “we’d find him in 1 of 3 locations.” Everyone laughed even though the locations weren’t specified. Johnston and Weist were successful in their quest and the Board agreed following the Elk might be a good idea and granted the funding.
Former County Assessor Bill Copren attended the meeting and spoke to the Board more than once during the day, it was all very confusing and I am not sure which issue he is addressing here. This isn’t Bill’s fault, it’s mine, I just couldn’t find his name in my notes to remember what he said. He always spoke clearly and intelligently and people listened. (Except me evidently)
Unfortunately three bids for Snow Grooming on the east side of the county had to be rejected and re-advertised due to a misunderstanding in paperwork received by the three bidders. According to Tim Beals there is still plenty of time to rebid before the grooming season starts.
The Board also discussed getting repaid from the USFS for emergency snow removal by the Sierra County Road Department on the Jackson Meadows Road during the first early snow storm in October that left campers and vehicles stranded in three feet of snow. The Board commended Director Tim Beals for reacting appropriately in an emergency situation to respond to the Forest Service request to assist in the rescue.