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Feather River Bulletin
Quincy, California
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October 20, 2010     Feather River Bulletin
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Feather River Bulletin Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2010 13A Supervisors fight grand jury fire with fire Joshua Sebold Staff Writer jsebold@plumasnews.com The Plumas County Board of Supervisors agreed with the Grand Jury Report's sense of urgency on the topic of county fire protection but didn't seem to agree with many of the Grand Jury's suggested solutions. The Grand Jury said it didn't "presume to know ex- actly what action must be taken," but that didn't stop it from making very specific recommendations at times. The report began by de- claring that 4,361 parcels in the county, 19 percent of the parcels in Plumas, had no fire protection services. Residents on those parcels couldn't be guaranteed a firefighting response if they lived outside of a fire district and could be billed for ser- vices if they were provided. The Board of Supervisors said the first statement re- garding fire protection ser- vices was contradicted by the second, which the super- visors found more accurate. They agreed the issue was still a massive problem be- cause fire departments that respond to incidents outside their districts either lose money or have to charge the homeowner. The Grand Jury said the Board of Supervisors was do- ing "next to nothing," before demanding county govern- ment "take immediate action to ensure the safety of its cit- izens." The supervisors disagreed with that characterization, saying they formed the Emergency and Fire Ser- vices Advisory Committee specifically to deal with the issue. The committee includes various fire chiefs, county department heads with relat- ed duties and supervisors. The supervisors' response indicated the county also "approved property tax shar- ing with fire districts to en- courage annexations of addi- tional territory into existing districts." The supervisors also ad- dressed the fact that they have been waiting for fire chiefs to reach consensus on how to proceed. At a recent meeting, Indi- an Valley Supervisor Robert Meacher successfully lob- bied the board to save some Secure Rural Schools Title III funding for possibly hir- ing a countywide fire mar- shal once the chiefs make a decision. The board also said the county's fire protection is- sues resulted from "a combi- nation of both inadequate planning in the past and un- avoidable challenges of pro- viding services to rural and sparsely populated areas." Homeowners The supervisors agreed homeowners should take steps to find out if they were in a fire district, whether the nearest fire department would respond to their home in an emergency and whether they would be charged for the expenses in- curred. The board also agreed with the Grand Jury finding that there is no clear way for homeowners to know if their property taxes pay for fire protection services. The board added, "The al- location of property taxes to fire departments varies greatly across the more than 200 different tax rate areas in Plumas." The Grand Jury report called for the county tax col- lector to itemize the proper- ty tax amount allocated for fire protection for each resi- dent's tax statement, with the name of the district pro- viding firefighting services or a note that service was not funded. The supervisors agreed that information would be helpful but added, "Provid- ing such information is cost- prohibitive." "There are changes in tax rate areas every year, and it is not feasible to attempt to customize existing software to incorporate information on tax rate areas or to up- date that information annu- ally." The board continued, "In- formation on tax rate areas and the allocation of proper- ty taxes to special district will be available online," as part of the county's new web- site. The supervisors disagreed with the Grand Jury's find- ing that no organization in the county could "disclose with certainty" whether a parcel was located in a fire district. The board said the plan- ning department could pro- vide that information. Development The supervisors disagreed with the Grand Jury's argu- ment that county govern- ment leaders "have been ap- proving land development without adequate fire fight- ing services." The board said the last "significant development" approved was Grizzly Ranch and "conditions of approval included annexation into an existing fire district, con- struction of a new fire sta- tion, and purchase of an ad- ditional fire engine." The board addressed Grand Jury says airports well run Joshua Sebold Staff Writer jsebold@plumasnews.com The 2009 - 10 Plumas Coun- ty Grand Jury had nothing but praise for the operation of the county's three air- ports. The Grand Jury Report commended the county's Fa- cility Services Department and various airport man- ........... .)'T).G "- agers for "maintaining a budget that allows our air- fields to be able to provide their services while not be- ing any sort of financial bur- den on the people who live and pay taxes in our coun- ty." The Plumas County Board of Supervisors agreed, "The airports operate as their own enterprise fund, which means both that they are not subsidized by the county and that any surplus remains with the airport fund." "Any operating surplus can be reinvested in growth and improvements or used to reduce fee charges to airport users. The Grand Jury also re- ported that Gansner Field (Quincy), Rodgers Field (Chester), and Nervino Air- port (Eastern Plumas)re- ceived compliance ratings of 90 percent, 93 percent and 98 percent respectively when inspected by Exxon Mobil Aviation in January. Finally, the report indicat- ed the Department of Trans- portation inspected the airports during summer 2009, with all critical issues identified in those inspec- tions "addressed in a timely manner." . . ....... : . ., , smaller projects such as the Feather River Inn. The developer has been "required to obtain fire pro- tection" while smaller subdi- visions have been approved "based on the fire protection standards in the current gen- eral plan." The supervisors' response added those stan- dards were being reviewed in the general plan update process. The Grand Jury suggested the building department should require "written ac- knowledgement" of a par- cel's fire protection status from the property owner be- fore building permits were approved. It added all real estate agents should be required to disclose the information as well. The supervisors agreed to pass those suggestions on to the general plan update con- sultant and working groups. The board also acknowl- edged, "In the past, inade- quate provisions were made for fire protection," before requirements were in- creased "over the past decade." The supervisors disagreed with the Grand Jury's sugges- tion new developments must obtain "a signed contract for fire protection services." The boa?d said residents inside fire districts didn't need contracts to receive ser- vices. "Contracts are also an im- perfect means of providing fire protection, since it is dif- ficult to create a contract that will guarantee fire pro- tection in perpetuity." CalFire The supervisors especially disagreed with the grand ju- ry's opinion the county had no other option but to "sue the state of California to ob- tain the same CalFire fire- fighting resources that neighboring counties enjoy." The board acknowledged CalFire and the Forest Ser- vice swap roles in Plumas County due to an old agree- ment, but said in counties where CalFire was more ac- tive, it had expensive con- tracts with counties and cities. The board said Riverside County "spends over $100 million per year on its con- tract." "There is no free lunch when it comes to fire protec- tion services, and Plumas County needs to pursue real- istic options that take into account our low population density and limited financial resources." TITLE III, o pge 12A programming to inform Quincy and Indian Valley residents about Firewise ac- tivities. Greenhorn The board approved $18,300 for Greenhorn Creek Community Service District to create its own Communi- ty Wildland Fire Protection Plan and obtain Firewise certification. Supervisor Swofford voted no, arguing that it was a du- plication of efforts with the Firesafe Council doing that type of work already. Several people at previous supervisors' meetings said Greenhorn didn't want to wait its turn for the council to address the community because of the history of fire danger there. Representatives of the Firesafe Council at the meet- ing said they would still as- sist Greenhorn when the CSD had questions. The community is expediting the process by moving forward on its own. PAID POLITICAL ADVERTISEMENT Supervisor I am the candidate who ... ... has the necessary training and experience in mediation and problem solving. As a certified commercial mediator (UC Berkeley), I have the knowledge and skills to help and resolve any dispute. ... cared enough to be interviewed by local In Home Care Workers to discuss the needs of our elderly, and mentally and physically incapable. The California United Home Care Workers invited all candidates to an interview process to determine which candidate would be best suited to represent the needs of our community. They chose me. ... has attended all five League of Women Voters Forum Nights. The League of Women Voters main objective is to educate the voters and citizens of our communities. ... has taken the time to tour the Phmas County Jail facility. It is important to understand first hand what each department of our county faces on a daily basis. How can we make intelligent decisions about our Sheriff's Department if we don't take the time to learn and listen? ... knows the importance of shopping locally. Where goods and services were available locally, I chose to spend every penny in our county. .... has attended the Town Hall Meetings regarding the new Courthouse location. This is by far one of the most important issues facing Plumas County in recent years. The State of California will be paying for the new court- house but this decision will affect Plumas County for years to come. This IS a County issue. ... was present at the Forum Nights for the Portola City Council Candidate's night and US Congress Candidate's night. It is just as important to be involved in the entire county as it is in the district in which we represent. The job of Supervisor includes reasonable decisions and effective communication between the state and federal government. ... has a vested interest in our education system and civic needs. I am a husband and father of three young boys, and my wife and I are involved DAILY in our school system by mentoring, coaching, communicating and volunteering time for the betterment of our children's future. ... has taken the time to work directly with our Public Health Director to continue developing a healthy environment for Plumas County. We are fortunate to have one of the most cutting edge public health directors in the State of California. It is important to continue the efforts our public health department has displayed in improving overall health status. ... has the knowledge and experience to tackle our county's emergency medical system and fire protection issues. As a former Firefighter/EMT, paid and volunteer, I am personally aware of the challenges small fire departments face in rural communities. ... has the experience and knowledge of managing hundreds of employees in any given day. .......... As an experienced manager and owner of a wide range of high volume businesses, I have developed the necessary communication skills needed to work effectively with all departments and personnel. Attn. Mail-In Voters: Absentee Ballots must be received by Election Day, Nov. 2. Post Marks DO NOT COUNT. Jon Kennedy 836-1674 RO. Box147 Graeagle, www.jonkennedyforsupervisor.com Paid for by the Committee to elect Jon Kennedy, Supervisor Distr ct 5, 2010. 1{13[IIMIHmlKll, ........................... it'"'- .................. 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