Documenter: Angelica Hernandez

Here’s what you need to know

  • Residents living in the rural areas of Madera County showed up in large numbers to oppose the July 1 implementation of SB 1383 which would impose a state-mandated local program of organic waste collection and other trash services.  

  • The board approved the receipt of $15,279,463.00, an unanticipated revenue from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. Deputy County Administrative Officer, Joel Bugay, also laid out a plan to generate an additional $6 million from salary savings gained by leaving positions vacant for a longer period of time. Bugay presented recommendations to earmark all $21 million of those funds to help the county eliminate the structural deficit caused by COVID related revenue loss. The money would also be for programs to help with economic impacts on businesses and households and for the construction of a fire station already in the design phase. 

  • Citing the increase of some position salaries to six figures, the financial deficit from COVID as well as the upcoming budget hearings, the board postponed proposed salary increases for positions within the human resources department. 

The Scene

The Madera County Board of Supervisors meeting took place on Tuesday, June 1, 2021 at 9:00 a.m. The meeting was made available via Webex. All board members were present in the chambers with a crowd of around 45 people sitting in the audience.  Chairman Robert L. Poythress welcomed everyone to the meeting.

Names of officials:

Brett Frazier (Supervisor – District No. 1)

Robert L. Poythress (Chairman)

David Rogers (Supervisor – District No. 2)

Leticia Gonzalez (Supervisor – District No. 4)

Tom Wheeler (Chairman Pro Tem)

The meeting opened with Poythress addressing legal counsel, Regina Garza. Without any additions to the agenda, Garza informed the board of two items requested for closed session. The first item required a conference with labor negotiators; designated representatives HR Director Elba Gomez and Susan Carter. The second item referred to two cases where the board faced “significant exposure to litigation” and required a conference with legal counsel regarding that litigation. Members of the public were asked if there were any questions regarding the closed session. Seeing none, the board members quickly recessed into closed session at 9:02 a.m. and exited the chambers.

The board members returned to the chambers at 9:58 a.m. and resumed the meeting at 10:03 a.m. Poythress asked if there were any reportable actions from the closed session. Garza said there were none. The board members chose to open and close the meeting in memory of several people. Board Member Brett Frazier chose David Rich, his wife’s dentist and Madera resident who had passed away recently. Poythress chose Ken Morgan, a Madera resident and business owner of Morgan’s Garage. Tom Wheeler chose Barbara Ann Burrough, a childhood friend of his and resident of Oakhurst. Board member David Rogers asked to include all veterans, in honor of Memorial Day. 

After the meeting was opened, pastor Dennis Sylvester from The First Assembly Church of God delivered the invocation. The Pledge of Allegiance followed right after. 

Public comment was then held for matters not appearing on the agenda. District Attorney Sally Moreno spoke during this time to commend Human Resources Director Elba Gomez. Moreno acknowledged her diligence at reclassifying and updating city job descriptions and salaries to match the work being done by the people in those positions. Moreno also said that Gomez’s work allows Madera County to offer more competitive pay and retain quality workers with increased access to training. “She’s helping to make Madera County one of the best places to work, live and play.” 


  • Supervisors Leticia Gonzales and Tom Wheeler each pulled multiple items from the consent calendar for further discussion and a separate vote. 

outreach on the State Rental Assistance Program. The main objective would be to shift marketing and outreach funds to local groups instead of relying on a large LA based nonprofit, which has been slow to help rural landlords get the information they need to navigate the state application process and access vital assistance to prevent unnecessary evictions or loss of property. 

  • Gonzales and Wheeler both pulled items K, M, and N from the consent calendar, These three items included actions to set the salary range of numerous positions within the HR Department. This restructuring, although praised by the District Attorney during public comment, brought up concerns for both Gonzales and Wheeler. 

  • Gonzales questioned the transparency of these salary descriptions, and cited concerns about how this would impact the upcoming budget hearings. She pointed to salary amounts increasing to six figures annually, despite looming cutbacks, limited resources, and lost revenue from the impacts of COVID.  “When we don’t have the money, we don’t have the money.  I won’t be prepared to support these.”

  • Wheeler expressed frustration that there wasn’t a breakdown of the salary details provided to the board. He referenced past instances where he was given a breakdown or the information had been presented to him during a separate meeting before being brought up for a vote. He argued that these salary increases should have been put on the agenda for a meeting that would take place after the upcoming budget hearing. 

  • Madera county administrative officer Jay Varney attempted to clarify that the reason this was brought up before the budget hearing was so that it could be included in that meeting’s discussions. Wheeler cut him off in an agitated tone and said regardless, they should have waited or provided a breakdown. 

  • Wheeler moved to table items K, L, M, N for a future meeting;the motion was seconded by Gonzalez. The motion passed by a unanimous vote of 5-0.  

  • Without public comment, Wheeler moved to approve the consent calendar without the tabled items, it was quickly seconded by Brett Frazier and passed unanimously.

  • Public Hearings were held to adopt a resolution establishing mandatory garbage, recycling and organics collection services in compliance with SB1383, and establishing the rates for services in the (7a) Mountain and (7b) Valley Franchise Areas. This agenda item attracted over 25 public comments from residents in those areas, all opposing the statewide mandate. 

    • Matt Treber, Chief of Developmental Services for Madera County, began the public hearing by updating the board members on their continued efforts to prevent the mandate from taking effect in their area. Treber said that talks with CalRecycle have been instrumental in working through the regulations to pass SB619 which would delay the enforcement element of SB1383 until Jan 1st. 2023, buying them time to make the case for a rural exemption. 

    • Frazier sided with residents in attendance, saying  “We hate this because personally this is being forced on us, without a lot of explanation of how this is supposed to be implemented.” Frazier called the bill a “one size fits all edict from Sacramento”.

    • Treber suggested that the board postpone a vote on this item given that the 2020 census data, along with the recent passing of SB619 would have a direct impact on this matter and may buy them some time. 

  • Wheeler motioned to postpone the vote and table the agenda item for a later meeting. Gonzalez amended the motion to include a letter of support for SB619 and asked Treber to also provide a version of  that letter in spanish as well. 

  • Poythress called for public comment and dozens of residents in the chamber began to line up for their turn to speak. 

    • All of the comments were in opposition to the state mandate, with many residents expressing anger at being forced to pay for something they didn’t want or need. Dan Stoops from district 5 said he would not be able to afford a 90% increase in trash services on his fixed income. He told the story of David and Goliath to illustrate the battle ahead of them. 

    • John Pero, a Madera resident, held up a stack of papers and said he had gathered over 456 protest votes over the past weekend alone. For a bill aimed at reducing carbon emissions to slow climate change, he criticized the lack of substance in the bill. “If you don’t know what the metric is, how are you going to measure progress?”

    • John Sheer from Coarsegold talked about being born in a communist country and that trash service for $90 is equal to a dictatorship. He warned residents to be careful what they do. 

    • Other residents spoke about how their current methods of disposing of garbage, recycling and organics already are sustainable in rural areas. They mentioned feeding food waste to the pigs and chickens and composting green waste. Many explained that their waste production is so small that it would create more carbon emissions by sending a truck up to collect in the rural areas for an amount they are able to take to a dump themselves when necessary.

    • Gary Kitrich, who only lives part time in Bass Lake, said the mandated trash service is unfair and has the potential of creating the perfect environment for bears or raccoons to get into the large bins if they are left outside by folks traveling to or from vacation homes in the area.  

    • Some residents complained that the mandate violated ADA accessibility laws. Doreen Bledshire from Coarsegold said she has a degenerative disc disease and said it is a physical burden to pull large bins a long way up her driveway and onto the curb in all weather conditions. 

    • A notable speaker was Ashley Smith from EMADCO Disposal. He stated that the mandate has been forced upon everyone, including the companies which are responsible for waste services and pick up, which are merely trying to be in compliance with laws and are in no way choosing a side on this matter or attempting to influence the community.  “We acknowledge that this is something that wasn’t wanted,” Smith said, choking up. “This has brought out the best and the worst from the mountain community.” He described the calls and the abuse they have received as “horrific” and asked them to understand they are just trying to do their jobs. 

    • Four additional people made a public comment through Webex. Theresa Wilson, a real estate agent, brought up the affordable housing issue in California. She explained that costs get passed down to the consumer including the affordability of insurance and utilities. These mandates increase the cost of owning or renting which ultimately reduces the amount of affordable housing in the area. 

  • The motion made by Wheeler to table this vote was brought up again and seconded by Rogers. After a quick roll call vote, the motion passed unanimously for the first public hearing on item 7a. 

  • Rogers motioned for the same action on 7b it was seconded by Gonzalez and without any public comment, passed unanimously by roll call vote.

  • Adjourned for recess at 12:10 p.m. and returned at 1:12pm to resume the meeting.

  • By unanimous vote the board waived the first reading of an ordinance amending Chapter 9.94 related to the firing of weapons and hunting in the San Joaquin River area and set the second reading for June 8, 2021. The motion was made by Rogers and seconded by Frazier. 

  • Approved a motion to submit a Letter of Interest for the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act of 1998 (TIFIA) for funding of the current State Route 41 Expressway Project. Matt Treber explained that this would be a motion to reach out to the Build America Bureau for roughly 49% of total project costs in the form of low interest loans. 

    • Wheeler mentioned how important the State Route 41 expressway would be for visitors to Yosemite.

    • Motion was made by Frazier, second by Wheeler and passed by a unanimous vote.

  • Discussed the use of funds from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 and approved the Receipt of Unanticipated Revenue No. 20-127 in the amount of $15,279,463.00 derived from the American Rescue Plan Act Fund for the Fiscal Year 2020-2021.

    • Deputy County Administrative Officer Joel Bugay presented the staff recommendation to earmark $21 million  of those funds to help the county eliminate the structural deficit caused by COVID related revenue loss. The money would also be for programs to help with economic impacts on businesses and households. 

    • Bugay explained that they are working with departments to designate vacancies to gain salary savings as well.

    • The second recommendation was to allocate $6.7 million for the final design of a new fire station project. 

    • Wheeler interrupted with “you’re crazy” and voiced disbelief that that amount was required. At one point during this exchange, Wheeler became upset and offended by Bugay’s reference to the packet placed on his desk and said he told him earlier that he only received that this morning.  

    • The motion to approve was made by Rogers, seconded by Frazier and passed by unanimous vote. 

  • Approved a resolution in opposition of AB 1316 (O’Donnell), increasing Charter School financial and performance compliance standards/audits. 

    • The motion to approve was made immediately without discussion by Rogers and seconded by Gonzalez. 

    • Wheeler briefly commented that this was the “craziest bill” he had ever seen in his life and commented that this would directly impact their funding. 

    • Rogers said this feels like an instance of “what they can’t control, they want to kill” and would eliminate school choice for many families. 

    • The motion passed with a unanimous vote. 

  • Approved the Unit Modification Agreement for Peace Officer Management Association as recommended by the Civil Service Commission. An agreement was made to exclude two positions from the association in order to function in their job roles more efficiently. 

    • The motion was made by Wheeler, seconded by Gonzalez and passed unanimously. 

  • Approved the adoption of a resolution authorizing revenue services to repeal certain criminal justice fees as required by AB 1869 until an Ordinance Amendment can be drafted and approved. This grants more time for the coordination of notifying people of the fees still owed.

    • The motion to approve was made by Rogers, seconded by Wheeler and passed by a unanimous vote. 

  • Approved the agreement for contracts with Central California Environmental Justice Network Leadership, Counsel for Justice and Accountability, California Farmworker Foundation, Madera Coalition for Community Justice, Centro Binacional para el Desarrollo Indígena Oaxaqueño and United Farm Workers of America for community based organization COVID Vaccination Assistance.

    • Wheeler interrupted the speaker immediately to ask her to remove her mask. She complied. 

    • The public health director explained that these agreements are part of an ongoing effort to utilize CBO’s in the vaccination efforts of the county in order to reach the highest possible vaccination levels. She pointed out that all six agreements are constructed in a way that would allow for maximum flexibility to re-allocate funding or terminate contracts if a CBO is underperforming in their vaccination efforts. 

    • Board member Rogers raised the question of how they are measuring success and why the dollar amounts are so high. She explained that holding vaccination clinics is an expensive process and after the initial peak of vaccinations the numbers/need have dramatically plateaued. They are now gauging success by walk-in participation rather than pre-registration and have had to continually adapt to the fluctuating needs of the community. 

    • Wheeler made a motion to approve which was seconded by Gonzalez with a request that more information be provided to the board at a later time. The motion passed unanimously. 

  • Approved end of year budget adjustments in preparation for the upcoming budget hearing meeting scheduled for June 7th, 2021. 

    • Motion to approve was made by Wheeler and seconded by Frazier. The motion passed with unanimous approval. 

There were no supervisor or staff reports or public comment and the board returned to closed session, adjourning the public portion of the meeting at 2:38 p.m. 

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