Why it matters:

With its only hospital closed, Madera County residents must now travel to Fresno for emergency and primary care services, leaving the county's most vulnerable populations at great risk.

Jan. 10, 2023 — Madera County Board of Supervisors

Documented by Josef Sibala

Following the closure of Madera Community Hospital on Jan. 3, the Madera County Board of Supervisors discussed reallocating $7 million of ARPA funds to mitigate the negative impacts of the closure, but ultimately took no action.

What happened: Following the closure of Madera Community Hospital on Jan. 3, the Madera County Board of Supervisors discussed reallocating $7 million of ARPA funds to mitigate the negative impacts of the closure at its Jan. 10 meeting, but ultimately took no action.

As proposed, $3.5 million would be reallocated away from projects in disadvantaged communities, $1.5 million from small business grants and $1 million earmarked for the preservation of essential services.

County Administrative Officer Jay Varney suggested forming an independent healthcare district through Madera Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) and hiring a consultant.

Supervisor Robert Poythress urged county staff to identify “realistic” and “strategic” solutions beyond mere platitudes and asked them for additional information.

The board did decide to freeze any ARPA expenditures until they receive more information from consultants.

And also: The board also discussed establishing a lower allocation amount per acre for Madera and Chowchilla, as well as imposing higher penalties on those who extract groundwater over an allocation. 

But after pushback from growers, the board decided to maintain current groundwater pumping allotments for the next two years rather than reduce allocations over that time.

Director for Water and Natural Resources Stephanie Anagnoson warned that “groundwater levels will worsen without projects.”

Up next: The Madera County Board of Supervisors are scheduled to meet again for a special meeting on Jan. 24 at 9 a.m. Meetings can be streamed online or attended in person at the County Government Center in Madera.

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The Fresno Documenters are a group of local residents who are trained and paid to attend and take notes at local public meetings where officials decide how to spend public money and make important decisions...