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Taking care of business — board begins budget crunching

Laura Beaton
Staff Writer
How did the county end up with a nearly $3 million budget shortfall? Supervisor Lori Simpson said she wanted the public to know where the shortfall came from.

Susan Scarlett, the county’s budget consultant, presented a spreadsheet listing what made the shortfall. The top three factors were the sheriff’s additional fund balance request of $876,870, the Teeter penalty (delinquent property tax revenues) of $663,275 and the cost plan reduction of $351,934.

Scarlett noted that the sheriff’s request is similar to last year’s; however, that budget gap was closed with the use of Assembly Bill 443 and other transfers. (See accompanying sidebar for Scarlett’s spreadsheet.)

The supervisors began hearing from department heads regarding their 2014-15 fiscal year general fund budgets at yesterday’s regular board meeting. They will continue the process after each meeting for the next couple months, in addition to one or more all-day budget workshops.

Supervisor Sherrie Thrall expressed her concern and frustration with the budget process and said she would have preferred meetings with department heads prior to Aug. 12.

“I am a deadline-oriented person and I’ve never missed one yet,” Scarlett assured her. Scarlett said she has been meeting with department heads to review their budgets in preparation for presentations to the full board.

So far, departments that Scarlett has met with have identified savings of $236,959, making the adjusted budget shortfall $2,645,140, she said.

Green waste fees reduced

The fees for green waste disposal in Quincy were slightly reduced to more accurately reflect actual costs, senior environmental planner Jim Graham told the board before a public hearing on the matter.

Instead of the previously proposed $5 per cubic yard of green waste, public works will charge $4.89. No one commented at the public hearing and the resolution was passed unanimously by the board.

Green waste will be collected at the Feather River Disposal property on Industrial Way as soon as everything necessary is in place, Graham said. Requirements include delivery of the incinerator, finalizing the MOU with Feather River Disposal and amending its storm water plan, and finalizing the job description for the green waste operator position.

Grand jury response

A subcommittee comprised of Supervisors Lori Simpson and Kevin Goss will review department responses to the grand jury before bringing them to the full board for approval, the board decided. They agreed to present a final draft response to the 2013-14 Plumas County Grand Jury Report at the Oct. 7 meeting.

FRC to rent ‘shelter house’

In its attempt to meet the housing needs of Feather River College students — particularly its football players — the college struck a deal to lease one of the county’s unused facilities, the “shelter house.”

Facilities director Dony Sawchuk told the board that the facility was currently being partially used for storage. He said the building requires renovating and upgrades to make it habitable.

Sawchuk said the department had been considering allowing the fire department to burn it down.

FRC is leasing the building “as is,” and will begin making necessary renovations, at its expense, very soon, said Nick Boyd, director of facilities for FRC. The building, located at 263 County Hospital Road, has five bedrooms, Boyd said, and will house 10 students.

Boyd said the building’s proximity to the college campus, only about 300 yards away, makes it a great location for student housing. He said residential assistants living at the dorms as well as a hired security force would provide oversight of the students and building.

The college’s president and superintendent, Dr. Kevin Trutna, added that all students living at the fully equipped house would be carefully screened.

Boyd said he hopes to have students living in the facility by the start of the fall semester, Aug. 25.

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