By Debra Moore
The Plumas County Board of Supervisors considered requests for one Dodge truck, six electric bikes, four Dodge Durango SUVs, one bookmobile, four to six plow trucks, and a service truck. The funds had been earmarked, but the Sheriff, librarian and public works director were back before the board for approval.
All were ultimately given the green light, though there was some discussion about the electric bikes, with a local business wanting assurance that they would be considered during the process and also asking some questions. Robert Gott, owner of Gott Power Sports in Quincy, asked about the type of bikes, their cost, maintenance and safety measures.
Sheriff Todd Johns said the bikes were requested by Search and Rescue, and he cited the Pacific Coast Trail as one area where they could be used. However, the PCT is closed to motor vehicles so the Sheriff is working with the Forest Service for an exemption.
Johns said that Search and Rescue is looking at two models, one of which Gott carries in his store. Johns said the department would follow the bid process and the funds being used are coming from Title III funds, and not the general fund. (Title III funds will also be used to purchase the Dodge truck the Sheriff requested.)
Gott said it’s important that funding be included for maintenance and he shared that weather can have a detrimental impact on these types of bikes.
Supervisor Greg Hagwood said he strongly encourages staff to “exhaust every opportunity to do business here in town with a respected business owner.” He added that having the ability to have maintenance done locally is important.
As for the four Dodge Durango SUVs, those area also earmarked for the Sheriff’s Office. Sheriff Johns said that he he originally selected Fords, but the company doesn’t make them for law enforcement this late in the year; ditto for Chevy. Johns said it might also be too late for the Durangos, but there was still a chance they could be purchased.
Plumas County Librarian Lindsay Fuchs asked the board to sign an agreement with Farber Specialty Vehicles for a bookmobile. The library received the Stronger Together: Improving Library Access grant from the California State Library to help pay for a bookmobile to provide direct library services to Greenville and surrounding areas post-Dixie Fire.
The grant is for $200,000 and the County is required to provide an additional $40,000. Of that $40,000, about $12,000 has already been promised to the Library from donations received from the GoFundMe page set up for the Greenville Library after the Dixie Fire, other private individual and organization donations, and the Quincy Friends of the Library book sale fundraiser. Potential funding assistance will be requested through the Long-Term Recovery Group, private fundraising, potential other grants, individual and organization donations, our Friends of the Library groups, and other potential Dixie Fire related funds. However, outside of the $12,000, no additional funding has been secured or promised as of this date.
The remaining trucks were approved for purchase by the Public Works Department. Director John Mannle said these were the last of the department’s fleet of trucks that needed to be replaced to meet state emission standards. The department also received permission to hire extra-help snow removal workers.
Agreement between sheriff and city of Portola
The supervisors were poised to pass the annual service contract between the Plumas County Sheriff’s Office and the city of Portola for law enforcement services within the city limits of Portola on the consent agenda, but it was pulled for discussion. This year’s contract is for $130,000.
“This is our standard contract,” Sheriff Todd Johns told the supervisors, adding that he was able to increase it from $100,000 to $130,000. But as typically happens during the contract renewal, a discussion ensued about whether the city was paying its fair share based on the number of calls attributed to the city, only to be countered by the argument that as citizens of Plumas County, the sheriff’s office should respond to the city regardless of a contract.
Supervisor Greg Hagwood, said he did the math when he was the sheriff. He said that while the city represents roughly 10 percent of the county’s population, “it was disproportionately using services” and cited reportable crimes such as assaults, burglaries, child abuse, and more being higher than in other areas of the county.
“When you look at the sheriff’s office total budget you would think the city would make a $1 million contribution, but that is unrealistic,” he said. He added, “The city has historically had very strong feelings that the service should be provided whether the payment is made or not.”
Sheriff Johns said that his office has cut back on some services. For example, his office is no longer providing code enforcement in the city.
Supervisor Jeff Engel reminded the board that he and Supervisor Sherrie Thrall voted against the contract one year. Thrall asked if it could be determined how much was spent providing law enforcement in Portola.
Johns said it was nearly impossible to do so as the officers go in and out of the city as they respond to calls. Hagwood said there could be a “ballpark” number based on the dispatch logs, because Portola calls are logged with a different number.
The supervisors approved the contract.