Documenter: Josef Sibala

Here’s what you need to know

  • Paul Yoder, partner at Shaw, Yoder, Antwih, Schmelzer, & Lange, notified the board about the state’s “largest-ever” budget of $226 billion with $1 billion in reserves to address homelessness, healthcare, drought crisis, transportation, and broadband needs.

  • The board unanimously rejected all bids received on May 26, 2021, for Avenue 424 over Traver Canal Bridge Project.

  • With a request from the Resource Management Agency, the board unanimously certified the Environmental Impact Report, Findings of Fact, and Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Program as the correct level of environmental review for the Three Rivers Hampton Inn and Suites Proposed Project located at 40758 Sierra Drive in Three Rivers.

The Scene

The Tulare County Board of Supervisors, according to its website, sets policy for County departments, oversees the County budget, adopts ordinances on local matters, and establishes land-use policies that affect unincorporated areas of Tulare County. 

They respond to the needs of County constituents daily by meeting or discussing issues individually with County community members to help resolve problems and address their concerns. The meeting is held live on Tuesday, June 29, 2021, at 9:00 am through the county’s YouTube channel. 

Tulare County Board of Supervisors Members present:

Larry Micari (District One), Pete Vander Poel (District Two), Amy Shuklian (Chair-District Three), Eddie Valero (Vice Chair-District Four), Dennis Townsend (District Five), Jason T. Britt (County Administrative Officer), Jennifer M. Flores (County Counsel), and Melinda Benton (Chief Clerk).

Others Present:

Paul Yoder, partner at Shaw, Yoder, Antwih, Schmelzer, & Lange

Charlie Norman, Fire Chief, Tulare County Fire

Manuel Rodriguez and Sandy Brown, In-House Support System (IHSS) workers

Stephen Poindexter, President of American Paving Co.  

Aaron Bock, Assistant Director, Tulare County Resource Management Agency

Joel W. Hizer, Principal (HTL Hospitality Advisors)

Greg and Laurie Schwaller

James Sickman

Steven Rothenburg

David Mills

Bill Oliver

Timothy Lutz, Director of Health and Human Services in the City of Tulare

Discussions/Actions

First, each director reported their meetings with the organizations focused on wildfires, ongoing vaccination services, food security, and agriculture. 

Then, Paul Yoder, partner at Shaw, Yoder, Antwih, Schmelzer, & Lange, notified the board about the state budget. The “largest-ever” budget of $226 billion with $1 billion in reserves will address homelessness, healthcare, drought crisis, transportation, and broadband needs. 

The allocations and updates include:

  • $8 billion for stimulus for individuals and families that make under $75,000, each receiving two checks.

  • $215 billion for counties to conduct the recall from the last Tuesday of September to the first Tuesday of October. 

  • $6 billion will be on broadband, which will be “important” for Tulare.

  • $2 billion will address homelessness, explicitly covering the operating costs of local governments. The state will allot $1 billion for 2021-22, another $1 billion for 2022-23.

  • $1.7 billion will address the backlog in housing credits for low-income housing projects. The funds are “shelf-ready” and “significant” to resolve homelessness.

  • $300 million to bolster the health system after COVID.

  • $4.5 billion will focus on behavioral health, especially children’s behavioral programs, psychiatric health facilities, board & care, etc. 

  • The proposal that will charge counties for Lanterman-Petris-Short (LPS) commitments will come back in the 2022-23 budget.

  • The eviction moratorium is extended through September 30. In addition, through AB 832, federal funds will allow renters to get 100% relief on their back rent and utility bills. 

  • The governor and the legislature agreed that counties not in contract with In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) workers are subject to a 7% penalty. 

  • $730 million is for drought relief.

  • $260 million to combat wildfires, including funding for CALFire fire crews, who are “important for valley counties in preventing fires in the first place.”

  • $3 billion additional for transportation projects ranging from public transit to streets.

  • The policy and the fiscal committees will discuss the state budget. 

Regarding homelessness, a concern in Tulare, Director Vander Poel asked if there is specific funding for facilities. He wondered whether there is funding for special districts. Under the $3 billion for transportation, he inquired if the budget will cover “widening and road repair.” 

Yoder responded that with “so much money,” facilities could be funded “under the current proposal.” Out of the $226 billion, the state will spend $250 million for special districts for ports and $100 million. 

Hence, he hopes for potential improvements on Highway 99. On transportation, he stated that the state would spend specifically on the following:

  • $1 billion on state highway operations

  • $1 billion for 2028 Olympics 

  • $1 billion for rail and transit projects

  • $500 billion for city and county transportation projects

  • $500 billion for grade separation projects

  • Lastly, the state will spend $400 billion for the State & Local Transportation Climate Adaptation Grant Program.

Director Townsend asked if the spending for homelessness issues will be an ongoing or a one-time grant. Yoder clarified that the expenditure is more than $1 billion, covering 4 to 5 years of funding. The funding is mindful of the 1% rise in revenue declared by the Department of Finance. 

Director Valero asked if the 100% relief for renters was in conversation. Yoder answered that the relief for renters would be “worked out” in the state budget. 

In the public comment, Fire Chief Charlie Norman aimed to strengthen ordinances against illegal fireworks and reduce the selling period. Last year, 29 booths were open, and 4 operations confiscated 7,000 pounds of illegal fireworks. 

Hence, he is preparing for a report for July 5 and assured available staffing with the DA’s Office and the Fuels Crew. He urged the public to attend public fireworks shows.

In-House Support System (IHSS) workers Manuel Rodriguez and Sandy Brown from Porterville demanded the Board for “fair wages.”

In the consent agenda, the board unanimously approved items # 6-43, except item# 29. The board mainly discussed the items as follows:

#29. The board appointed with (4-1) vote Allison Shuklian as the Local Enforcement Agency Hearing officer for a term of four years, beginning July 1, 2021, as stipulated by regulation. Member Amy Shuklian abstained due to a conflict of interest.

#31. The board unanimously approved salary increases for Unrepresented Employees in Specified Bargaining Units and other benefits and compensation changes under the following: For Unrepresented employees in Bargaining Units 10, 11, 19, 20, and 21, a 3% salary increase effective July 4, 2021, and a 1% salary increase effective July 3, 2022. (This does not apply to County Elected Officials and the Board of Supervisors.) For Unrepresented employees in Bargaining Unit 9, a 3% salary increase and a 5% Equity increase effective July 4, 2021, and a 2% salary increase effective July 3, 2022.

#34. The board unanimously rejected all bids received on May 26, 2021, for Avenue 424 over Traver Canal Bridge Project. Approve the re-advertisement for proposals for the Avenue 424 over Traver Canal Bridge Project. 

  • In a public comment, Stephen Poindexter, the president of American Paving Co., expressed frustration that the board rejected the bids. He argued with the board to consider the proposals, despite not meeting the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) certification and the Good Faith Effort. 

  • However, Micari, Townsend, Vander Poel, and others agreed to “wiping the slate clean.” The board recognized that resuming the bids will result in the loss of federal funding for transportation. 

#5. With a request from the Resource Management Agency, the board unanimously certified the Environmental Impact Report, Findings of Fact, and Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Program as the correct level of environmental review for the Three Rivers Hampton Inn and Suites Proposed Project located at 40758 Sierra Drive in Three Rivers. 

  • Also, the board unanimously adopted the Environmental Impact Report, Findings of Fact, and Mitigation Monitoring, and Reporting Program prepared under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the State CEQA Guidelines per Section 15164(b) for the Three Rivers Hampton Inn and Suites Proposed Project.

  • Then, the board unanimously approved the Resolution to certify and adopt the Environmental Impact Report, Findings of Fact, and Mitigation Monitoring, and Reporting Program prepared under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the State CEQA Guidelines per Section 15164(b), for the Three Rivers Hampton Inn and Suites Proposed Project.

A separate public hearing focusing on item #5 started with Aaron Bock, Assistant Director at the Tulare County Resource Management Agency, who argued that the project is consistent with the Environmental Impact Reports and “only” need ministerial approvals. 

Member Micari echoed constituents’ concerns on water quality and whether the project can remedy those problems. The Resource Management Agency asserted “no red flags” with the project.

Afterward, Joel W. Hizer, who represents the applicant and heads the property management of the project, insisted on the project’s benefits for the community, particularly in more than 20 jobs, transient occupancy, and $400,000 in taxes. 

Several Tulare residents were concerned about the impact of the project on the Three Rivers area. According to Greg and Laurie Schwaller, the projects failed to address the future development of the Three Rivers. James Sickman stated that nitrogen contamination from the project would impact the water supply. 

Likewise, Steven Rothenburg, David Mills, and Bill Oliver sought further study on whether the project will cause damage to water systems. 

#44. With the request from the Health and Human Services Agency, the board unanimously approved an amendment to Agreement No. 28726 with California Forensic Medical Group (CFMG), Inc. 

CFMG will provide comprehensive Health and Mental Health care services for the Tulare County Criminal Justice Facilities in an amount not to exceed $19,738,282, effective July 1, 2021, through June 30, 2022. 

The purpose of the amendment is to extend the term of the agreement for one year and to update Exhibit A (Scope of Services), Exhibit A.1 (Staffing), and Exhibit B (Payment of Services)

  • Health and Human Services head Timothy Lutz argued that the amendments increase psychiatric services, repeat offenders, and infectious disease treatment programs.

In closed session, the board mainly discussed the following:

Item B: The board unanimously authorized the legal counsel to defend in the case of “Center for Biological Diversity et al. v. United States Bureau of Reclamation, et al., United States District Court, Eastern District of California; 1:20-CV00706”. The case deals with water contracts surrounding the Central Valley Project and the Cross Valley Canal.

Item C: The board unanimously hired Cameron Petilla as board representative, effective July 12, 2021. 

The meeting will be on Tuesday, July 6, 2021, available on the YouTube channel of the Tulare County Board of Supervisors. 

If you believe anything in these notes is inaccurate, please email us at Documenters-admin@thefresnoland.com with “Correction Request” in the subject line. 

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