Here’s what you need to know
- At its September 27, 2022, meeting, the Madera Board of Supervisors (4-1) approved penalties on those who extract groundwater 10 percent over an allocation for the Chowchilla, Delta-Mendota, and Madera subbasins. Supervisor David Rogers voted no. Penalties will begin at $100/acre-foot over the allocation per farm unit and increase by $100/acre-foot per year to a maximum of $500/acre-foot.
- Director for Water and Natural Resources Stephanie Anagnoson said steep groundwater level decreases in the Madera Subbasin are inevitable without penalties, demand reduction, and projects. John Pero and other farmers stated that Madera should be a “water-sanctuary” county and stand up to Sacramento and the environmental groups.
- Assistant Human Resources Director Michele May named Roman Noriega the new Human Resources Director.
- The top community priorities in allocating American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds were identified during community meetings and 33 community survey forms as: sewer and water infrastructure, street lighting upgrades, broadband access, and park and recreation improvements.
- What additional steps will the county take to avert steep groundwater level drops while further easing the concerns of farmers?
- What projects are expected from the ARPA funds to help disadvantaged communities?
According to its website, the Madera Board of Supervisors is the legislative and executive governing body of the Madera County government. Each of the five supervisorial districts of the county elects one supervisor.
Within limits prescribed by state law, the board enacts ordinances and rules, determines county policy, supervises the activities of county departments, adopts an annual budget, and fixes salaries.
The board meets regularly on the first three Tuesdays of each month and occasionally on Mondays in the board chambers of the County Government Center in Madera. On Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022, the meeting was at 9 a.m.
Madera County Board of Supervisors Members present:
- Brett Frazier (District #1)
- David Rogers (District #2)
- Leticia Gonzalez (District #4)
- Tom Wheeler (District #5)
- Robert Poythress (District #3)
- Chief Clerk Karen Scrivner
- Assistant Human Resources Manager Michele May
- Human Resources Director Roman Noriega
- Deputy County Administrative Officer for Finance Joel Bugay
- Director for Water and Natural Resources Stephanie Anagnoson
- Madeline Harris from the Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability
- Mark Tool
- Mark Reed
- John Pero
- Noel Lopez
- Mike Amari
- Michael Titus
- Steven Shahbazian
- Rabbi Amnon Shor
- Jim Mahil
- Larkin Herman
- Mark Peters
- Jamie Singh Sidhu
- Sue O’Connor
- Laura Ramos
- Kevin Erman
Assistant Human Resources Director Michele May named Roman Noriega the new Human Resources Director.
Mark Tool urged the board to halt the Proposition 218 process.
The board (5-0) unanimously approved items A to J in the consent agenda:
A. The board approved the regular meeting minutes for September 13, 2022.
B. 8957: The board approves the receipt of unanticipated revenue No. 22-019 for $11,700.00 derived from Animal Services – Miscellaneous Revenue to Special Departmental Expense for the fiscal year 2022-2023.
C. 8996: The board entered into an amendment to MCC No. 9508B-C-2020 with the Fresno-Kings-Madera Regional Health Authority dba CalViva Health amending CalAIM Data Sharing Authorization Guidance that supports data sharing between Managed Care Plans (MCPs) health care providers, community-based social and human services providers, local health jurisdictions, and County and other public agencies that provided services and managed care under CalAIM.
D. 8997: The board entered into an amendment to MCC No. 9848C-C-2021 with Blue Cross of California Partnership Plan, Inc., amending CalAIM Data Sharing Authorization Guidance that supports data sharing between Managed Care Plans (MCPs) health care providers, community-based social and human service providers, local health jurisdictions, and County and other public agencies that provide services and managed care under CalAIM.
E. 8961: The board approved the Transfer of Appropriations No. 21-164 for $1,064,806.00 from ARPA Fund – Appropriations for Contingencies to Operating Transfers Out for the Fiscal Year 2021-2022.
F. 8993: The board approved the District Attorney’s office to apply for funds from Cal OES, Criminal Justice/Emergency Management and Victim Services Branch (Cal OES CJ/EMVSB).
G. 8884: The board adopted a resolution making findings and determinations concerning the disability retirement for Joann Evans.
H. 8964: The board received the monthly report of employee transactions for August 2022.
I. 8959: The board agreed with California State University, Stanislaus, to provide broad public health experiences and school credit for CSUS students five years from the execution date.
J. 8814: The board agreed with RNG Moovers, LLC to install, operate, and maintain approximately 5.5 linear miles of three inches diameter fiber spar multi-layered Thermo Plastic biomass gathering pipeline within the county road right of way as part of the Red Top Pipeline Digester Project.
The board discussed the following:
6.a. 8939: Update on progress of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) projects and outreach efforts and provide direction to staff (presented by Deputy County Administrative Officer for Finance Joel Bugay):
On March 11, 2021, the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021 was signed into law.
ARPA created the State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF), which provided emergency funding to eligible state, local, territorial, and Tribal governments to respond to the pandemic and mitigate or prevent job losses of essential critical services.
Madera County received a direct federal allocation of $30,558,925.
On January 25, 2022, the board directed staff to allocate $5 Million of the county’s ARPA for projects in the most severely disadvantaged communities.
Staff conducted outreach activities in these communities to identify priorities and use this input to create actionable and feasible projects.
The five communities that meet the severely disadvantaged designation are listed below, including the dates and locations where community meetings were held:
- La Vina (May 31, 2022, La Vina Community Center)
- Chukchansi (July 19, 2022, Street Outreach)
- Fairmead (July 25, 2022, Fairmead Community Center)
- Eastin-Arcola & Ripperdan (July 26, 2022, Eastin-Arcola Elementary)
Based on community feedback received during the meetings and from 33 community survey forms, the top community priorities identified were sewer and water infrastructure, street lighting upgrades, broadband access, and park and recreation improvements.
6.b. 8925: Sheriff’s Office Logistics Cash Flow Loan presented by Anthony Loza)
1. The board approved the receipt of unanticipated revenue No. 22-014 for $450,000.00 derived from Local Law Enforcement – State-Rural/Small County Law Enforcement to Operating Transfers Out – Capital Project for the fiscal year 2022-2023.
2. The board approved the receipt of unanticipated revenue No. 22-015 for $450,000.00 derived from Oakhurst Sheriff Storage Facility-Operating Transfers Into Buildings & Improvements for the fiscal year 2022-2023.
3. The board approved receipt of unanticipated revenue No. 22-018 for $1,415,850.00 derived from Cash Flow Loan from GF – Cash Flow Loan to Oakhurst Sheriff Storage Facility – Buildings & Improvements for the fiscal year 2022-2023.
Groundwater sustainability agency (GSA) reports consist of:
7.a. 8935: Penalties in 2023 for exceeding water allocations.
Director for Water and Natural Resources Stephanie Anagnoson said steep groundwater levels in the Madera subbasin are inevitable without penalties, demand reduction, and projects.
The Madera subbasin has an overdraft of 165,900-acre-feet. Despite projects, an average reduction of 105,900-acre-feet of groundwater has to occur.
She talked about penalties in other water districts.
In Westlands Water District, pumping more than the amount allowable through the allocation is subject to a civil penalty not to exceed $500.00 per acre-foot.
Those who exceed 25 acre-feet are required to reimburse the District for acting as an agent and acquiring replacement water on a one-to-one basis. Penalties are cumulative.
In Eastern Tule GSA enforces a penalty of $270 per acre-foot in Tier 1 and $500 per acre-foot in Tier 2.
The Lower Tule River Irrigation District and Pixley Irrigation District enforce a penalty of $90 per acre-feet in Tier 1 and $180 per acre-feet in Tier 2. Beyond Tier 3 is $1000 per acre-feet.
In Mid-Kaweah GSA, pumping over 0.83 acre-feet (AF) /acre of evapotranspiration (ET) to 1.67 AF/acre of ET) is charged at a rate of $160.0 per AF, which includes service fee and replacement water fee.
She stated that allocations require a penalty for compliance. Rates for projects are within bounds for agencies that have projects of substance.
Pumping above 1.67 AF/acre ET up to 2.50 AF/acre of ET) is charged at a rate of $210.00 per acre-foot, which includes service fee and replacement water.
The attached resolutions outline penalties for exceeding allocations for farm units beginning at $100/acre-foot over the allocation for a farm unit in the County GSA in the Madera, Chowchilla, and Delta Mendota Subbasins in 2023.
The resolution also places an additional $1000 per farm unit penalty in the Chowchilla Subbasin to cover domestic good mitigation costs, which are currently unfunded by fees.
These resolutions differ from those presented on September 13, 2022, in several key ways:
- There is a pre-approval process for using meters without using the appeals process.
- Penalties begin at $100/acre-foot over the allocation per farm unit and increase by $100/acre-foot per year to a maximum of $500/acre-foot.
- Penalties are calculated for all water over the allocation.
- The interest rate for penalties has decreased from 10 to 6 percent.
- The appeals process is streamlined to eliminate the staff-level review.
Supervisor David Rogers said that limits to groundwater allocation are crucial, yet the Madera GSA must consider the concerns of farmers.
Supervisor Robert Poythress and Tom Wheeler mentioned that water sustainability is key to agriculture and businesses in the county.
Laura Ramos from the California Water Institute presented information on the system-level evaluation of flow meters.
The East Kaweah Groundwater Sustainability Agency contracted with the California Water Institute to investigate the functionality of water meter systems to measure, collect, and aggregate pump discharges from groundwater wells.
She recommends that water meters only be installed in standard configurations.
Supervisor Brett Frazier mentioned that the state found issues in the Madera groundwater sustainability plan (GSP), such as ignoring subsidence and not coordinating goals.
Mark Reed from District 5 opposed the penalties.
John Pero and other farmers stated that Madera should be a “water-sanctuary” county and stand up to Sacramento and the environmental groups.
Madeline Harris from the Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability hopes to facilitate community engagement with people who rely on domestic wells and consult impacted communities concerning drinking water.
Kevin Erman said the penalties are “reasonable” yet emphasized the need for a budget.
Mike Amari said the Proposition 218 process is questionable and called for delays in fees, penalties, and property taxes.
Michael Titus mentioned that property taxes are unconstitutional and an example of “government overreach.”
Steven Shahbazian called that projection of groundwater levels “speculation.”
Rabbi Amnon Shor urged the supervisors to vote no to penalize farmers.
Jim Mahil from Chowchilla Subbasins Growers’ Group hoped the supervisors would hold off the penalties.
Noel Lopez said that the growers must be allowed to calibrate their meters.
Jamir Singh Sidhu called for the adoption of technologies such as cloud-seeding.
Mark Peters asked for an economic impact study of the penalties.
1. The board (4-1) established the authority to impose penalties on those who extract groundwater over an allocation for the Chowchilla subbasin.
2. The board (4-1) established the authority to impose penalties on those who extract groundwater over an allocation for the Delta-Mendota subbasin.
3. The board (4-1) establishes the authority to impose penalties on those who extract groundwater over an allocation for the Madera subbasin.
In these three items, Supervisor Rogers voted no.
In a closed session, the board discussed the following:
2.a. 8969: Request for closed session: Government Code Section 54957.6
Conference With Labor Negotiators
Agency designated representatives: Joel Bugay, Deputy County Administrative Officer-Finance; Michele May, Interim Human Resources Director and Susan Carter, Human Resources Manager.
Employee organization: All Units
Unrepresented employees: All Classifications (Excluding Elected Officials)
2.b. 9015: Request for closed session: Government Code Section 54956.9 (d)(1)
Conference with legal counsel – existing litigation
County of Madera v. Highway 41 Properties LLC, et al., Madera County Superior Court Case No. MCV083624
2.c. 9017: Request for closed session: Government Code Section 54956.9 (d)(2)
Conference with legal counsel – anticipated litigation
(Significant Exposure to Litigation):
The meeting lasted until 1:00 p.m. The next board meeting will be on Tuesday, October 4, 2022, at 9 a.m.
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