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Supervisors would go to jail rather than return federal funding

  Plumas County supervisors say they would rather go to jail than return any of the Secure Rural Schools funding that has already been received.

  “What happens if we don’t send the money back?” Supervisor Sherrie Thrall asked during the board’s April 2 meeting. “What happens if we say ‘kiss off’?”

  When it was jokingly suggested that it might mean going to jail, Board Chairman Terry Swofford had a question for Sheriff Greg Hagwood. “Do you have room for five more?”

  “I’m a good cook,” Supervisor Lori Simpson chimed in.

  Despite the good-humored banter, the supervisors were adamant that they didn’t intend to return any of the $3.58 million that the county has already received to be divided between county roads and schools.

  The federal government has indicated that it would seek a return of a portion of the funds allocated through the Secure Rural Schools program due to the sequestration (the budget cuts to some categories of federal spending that began March 1). The cut would be roughly 5 percent of the monies received.

  Thrall argued that the money was awarded for fiscal year 2012 and shouldn’t be impacted by the sequestration.

  Local, regional, state and national associations of counties are fighting the cuts, as are congressional leaders, even though, as Thrall noted, the local representatives voted for the sequestration.

  Thrall wanted to take immediate action opposing the fee return, but County Counsel Craig Settlemire advised restraint.

  “If we do receive a demand, then we can make an analysis,” Settlemire said. “We should wait and see.”

  As for the supervisors’ willingness to take extreme measures, Settlemire said, “Hopefully it doesn’t mean the sheriff will have to open up the jail.”

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