District Attorney Jeff Cunan argued that the county was passing up $515,000 per year in alcohol and drug treatment funding from the state and federal governments during the public comment section of the Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday, Nov. 9.
He added that Plumas was the only county in California without an A&D program and the people at the state level were “perplexed” by the county’s refusal to appoint a new program administrator and accept the funding.
Cunan has been attempting to get the A&D issue on the board agenda for more than a month.
The sitting DA originally sent a memo to the supervisors, other county employees and this newspaper early in October, when he was attempting to get on the Tuesday, Oct 12, agenda.
BOS Chairwoman Sherrie Thrall briefly addressed Cunan’s request at that meeting, saying the board received a large packet from the DA requesting that it consider reinstating an A&D program.
She said the issue would be held off the agenda until “we do our homework and find out exactly what position the county’s in right now as far as our closure of the department and lay off of employees.”
“I think we still have hearings pending so that will not be agendized for discussion until probably the second meeting in November if we have the information we need by that time.”
Cunan’s appearance during the public comment period Nov. 9 made it abundantly clear he was through waiting for the board to bring the issue before the public.
He said the county’s lack of an A&D department for two years was unprecedented.
Cunan’s previous memo argued that the county was also holding onto $138,903 in grant funds left over from its previous A&D program, which he said would have to be paid back if the county didn’t use it to provide A&D services.
Cunan said he spoke with representatives from the state who alluded “to the possibility that were Plumas County to again have a new program in the near future, there may be an option to use this money to help fund it, in lieu of paying it back.”
Cunan’s document also included quotes he attributed to Marjorie McKisson, assistant deputy director of California’s Program Services Division, telling him there was $515,000 allocated for the county in the current fiscal year and “we’re just waiting for Plumas to accept the money.”
It also indicated she told him the money would be given to other counties if Plumas didn’t accept it, as has happened in the previous two years.
The memo argued that Plumas didn’t need to have a department to accept the funds and could subcontract with private organizations or another county to provide services, basically funneling the money through the county without having to hire new employees.
In his public comment in November, Cunan said the people at the state “figure they will prorate the amount we are not using day by day since the fiscal year started.”
“Every day we’re losing $1,400. Since I put this in front of the board over a month ago, the county has lost $50,000 in Alcohol and Drug Services money.”
“If you wait another month it will be another $50,000. If you wait till I leave office, which appears to be the case, it’ll be another $100,000.”
He added that he spoke with people at the state level about the reasons County Administrative Officer Jack Ingstad gave them for not reinstating a program and “the representative that I spoke to said that it didn’t make any sense to her.”
Cunan said he often had encounters with parents asking him why the county wouldn’t offer their children services and because of this he would continue to pursue this cause “regardless of how long you wait, or what you throw at me.”
“I’m going to come to every board meeting between now and when we do have an alcohol and drug program so that when I do face these parents of these teenagers I can look them in the eyes and tell them that I did at least everything possible to alleviate the tragedy that’s happening in this, the only county (without alcohol and drug services) in California.”
After Cunan’s comment, Thrall asked County Counsel Craig Settlemire to comment on the county’s position.
He responded, “There are pending issues with regards to personnel matters relating to the former alcohol and drug program.
“There’s also audits that are pending with the state and those issues we’re trying to resolve at this time before we implement another program.”
Cunan retorted that when the board put this topic on an agenda there would be “quite a bit to say about both those issues and I’d be happy to be the one that does it if no one else will.”
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