Documented by Josef Sibala
Here’s what you need to know
- During the Jan. 24 special meeting, the Madera Board of Supervisors voted (3-2) against imposing higher penalties on those who extract groundwater over an allocation in the Chowchilla, Delta-Mendota, and Madera Subbasins. They also discussed a groundwater recharge credit policy, but ultimately decided to continue the discussion at the next board meeting.
- Department of Social Services Director Deborah Martinez mentioned $108,000 of EBT card skimming fraud in January 2023, particularly in ATMs. She advised the public to be aware of their surroundings and ensure that the ATM is not altered.
- The board introduced an ordinance levying the special taxes within Community Facilities District (CFD) 2022- 1 (Gunner Ranch Public Services) Improvement Area No. 1 and No. 2; and waived the reading set for the second reading on Feb. 7, 2023. The adoption of the resolution of intention officially began the proceedings for forming CFD No. 2022-1 with the two improvement areas.
- When will the investigation on EBT fraud be concluded?
- What will the Gunner Ranch CFD impact residents in other areas of the county?
- How will farmers and businesses avail of groundwater recharge?
According to its website, the Madera County 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, Jan. 24, 2023, the meeting was at 9 a.m.
Madera County Board of Supervisors Members present:
- Chairman David Rogers (District #2)
- Chairman Pro Tem Robert Poythress (District #3)
- Jordan Wamhoff (District #1)
- Chairman David Rogers (District #2)
- Leticia Gonzalez (District #4)
- Robert Macaulay (District #5)
- Chief Clerk Karen Scrivner
- County Counsel Regina Garza
- Department of Social Services Director Deborah Martinez
- Director for Self-Sufficiency Sharon Diaz
- Lieutenant Robert Blehm
- District Attorney Sally Moreno
- Magali Castillo
- Director for Water and Natural Resources Stephanie Anagnoson
- Nataly Escobedo Garcia from Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability
- Benjamin Martin
- Christina Beck from Madera County Farm Bureau
- Pricilla Williams from Chowchilla
- Ralph Pistoresi
- Mark Mihara from Madera Ag Water Coalition
- Devin Aviles from Agri-World Cooperative
- Mike Alamari
- Larkin Harman
- Larry Patrowski
- County Administrative Officer Jay Varney
- County Assessor Brett Frazier
- John Pero from Ahwahnee
- Mark Peters
- Noah Lopez from Madera Ag Water Association
Department of Social Services Director Deborah Martinez mentioned $108,000 of EBT fraud in January 2023, particularly in ATMs.
She advised the public to be aware of their surroundings and ensure that the ATM is not altered.
Director for Self-Sufficiency Sharon Diaz said that the fund allocated for CalFresh would be reduced to $2 million in April 2023.
Lieutenant Robert Blehm from the Sheriff’s Office clarified that their office had reported a 133 percent increase in reports of credit card fraud.
District Attorney Sally Moreno announced that investigations on the increased EBT card fraud are ongoing.
Magali Castillo noted a three-feet hole in their property that gushes water.
The board (5-0) unanimously approved items A to AA in the consent agenda:
A. 9152: The board authorized the submission of a grant application for $25 million and, if funded, acceptance of the award for the Behavioral Health Continuum Infrastructure Program (BHCIP) Round 5: Crisis and Behavioral Health Continuum Grant.
B. 9158: The board entered into an amendment to MCC No. 12270-22 with Zaks Security One amending compensation and costs to add security patrol services to the Oakhurst Counseling Center to ensure staff and client safety at this site for Fiscal Year 2022-2023.
C. 9188: The board reaffirmed Resolution No. 2015-101, declaring a local emergency due to the tree mortality disaster in the county and throughout the state.
D. 9189: The board reaffirmed Resolution No. 2020-032, ratifying and extending the declaration of a local emergency and Local Health Emergency (Covid 19).
E. 9173: The board agreed with Coarsegold Resource Conservation District about work to be carried out under the 2022 County Coordinator Grant Program from the California Fire Safe Council for a term ending February 29, 2024.
F. 9197: The board reaffirmed Resolution No. 2023-004 of the Board of Supervisors of Madera County, ratifying and extending the Declaration of a Local Emergency (Closure of Madera Community Hospital).
County Administrative Officer Jay Varney and Deputy County Administrative Officer Joel Bugay are exploring fund sources for providing healthcare in the county.
G. 9160: The board approved the Receipt of Unanticipated Revenue No. 22- 093 for $100,000.00 derived from Central Garage/ Fleet ISF – Other-Government Agencies to Central Garage Gasoline and Special Department Expenses for Fiscal Year 2022-2023.
H. 9168: Law Library relocation.
1. The board approved the Receipt of Unanticipated Revenue No. 22-0 for $70,000.00 derived from the Law Library fund balance to Operating transfers out – Capital Project for Fiscal Year 2022-2023.
2. The board approved the Receipt of Unanticipated Revenue No. 22-0 for $70,000.00 derived from Law Library-Operating transfers into buildings and improvements for Fiscal Year 2022-2023.
I. 9174: The board approved the new fleet service rates for all county departments. These new rates are not being imposed or collected from the public.
J. 9190: The board reaffirmed Resolution No. 2021-130 recognizing and determining meeting risks under the Covid-19 proclaimed State of Emergency pursuant to Assembly Bill 361 related to statutory Brown Act exemptions.
K. 9157: The board adopted a resolution authorizing the grant application and Grant Agreement No. 5GG21148 for the California Climate Investments Fire Prevention Grant program.
L. 9165: The board adopted a resolution extending Resolution No. 2022-107 setting maximum pay allowance for county employees on temporary Military Leave of Absence (Military and Veterans Code 395.03).
M. 9167: The board adopted a resolution making findings and determinations concerning the application for Industrial Disability Retirement for Bryan Cutler.
N. 9161:The board approved the Madera County Library’s application for the California State Library’s Inspiration Grant Award in the amount of $1,294.00 for the STEM Discovery Project for Fiscal Year 2022-2023.
O. 9162: The board approved the Madera County Library’s application for the California State Library’s Inspiration Grant Award in the amount of $13,200.00 for Equitable Summer Programming for Fiscal Year 2022- 2023.
P. 9178: The board entered into an amendment to MCC No. 11662B-22 with Jail Education Solutions, Inc. amending the fee schedule for the Juvenile Detention Facility to reflect the one-time installation fee of $2,195.88 and annual increase of $4,000.00 due to the installation of wireless access points.
Q. 9164: Federal Advance Payments.
1. The board approved the Receipt of Unanticipated Revenue No. 22-083 in the amount of $369,068.00 derived from Federal Advance Payments – Operating Transfer In to Operating Transfer Out for Fiscal Year 2022-2023.
2. The board approved the Receipt of Unanticipated Revenue No. 22- 084 in the amount of $369,068.00 derived from Health Administration – Operating Transfer In to Transfer Out for Fiscal Year 2022-2023.
R. 9171: The board entered into an agreement with the California Department of Public Health for the California Pathways into Public Health (Cal-PPH) Initiative to assist and provide support in carrying out public health activities for Fiscal Years 2023-2025.
S. 9191: The board reaffirmed Resolution 2020-123 declaring a Local Health Emergency (Creek Fire) by the County Health Officer.
T. 9192: The board reaffirmed the Declaration of a Local Health Emergency (Fork Fire) by the County Health Officer.
U. 9206: The board adopted a resolution delegating authority to the Chief of Development Services or his designee to enter into emergency public works contracts without competitive bidding pursuant to Public Contract Code Section 22050(b).
V. 9193: The board reaffirmed Resolution No. 2015-087 proclaiming a Local Emergency created by the severe drought conditions that exist in the County and throughout the State.
W. 9194: The board reaffirmed Resolution No. 2020-123 ratifying and extending the declaration of a Local Emergency for the Creek Fire.
X. 9195: The board reaffirmed Resolution No. 2021-015 ratifying and extending the declaration of a Local Emergency (winter storm events).
Y. 9196: The board reaffirmed Resolution No. 2022-137 of the Board of Supervisors of Madera County ratifying and extending the Declaration of a Local Emergency (Fork Fire).
Z. 9159: The board entered into an amendment to MCC No. 11519-19 with the California Department of Health Care Services to extend the term of the agreement to March 1, 2024 to ensure protocols and practices to protect data of Medi-Cal applicants and recipients personally identifiable information.
AA. 9154: The board adopted a resolution to accept work and authorize filing a Notice of Completion for MCC No. 12013-21 with Madera Pumps, Inc.
Groundwater sustainability agency (GSA) reports are as follows:
7.a. 9163: Resolutions Amending Penalties
1. The board (3-2) voted against the resolution amending Resolution No. 2022-143 establishing the authority for the imposition of higher penalties on those who extract groundwater in excess of an allocation in the Chowchilla Subbasin.
2. The board (3-2) voted against the resolution amending Resolution No. 2022-144 establishing the authority for the imposition of higher penalties on those who extract groundwater in excess of an allocation in the Delta-Mendota Subbasin.
3. The board (3-2) voted against the resolution amending Resolution No. 2022-145 establishing the authority for the imposition of higher penalties on those who extract groundwater in excess of an allocation in the Madera Subbasin.
Allocations have been set with the understanding that growers will attempt to manage water use within the allocation.
Penalties provide a financial incentive for growers to stay within their allocation. Penalties are provided for in the water code
On September 27, 2022, the Board of Supervisors acting as the Board of Directors for the County Groundwater Sustainability Agency adopted a penalty for 2023 of $100 per acre-foot in excess of an enrolled participants available allocation
The penalty would increase by $100 per year for every year afterwards, up to a maximum of $500 per acre-foot in excess of an enrolled participant’s available allocation in 2027 and thereafter.
Director for Water and Natural Resources Stephanie Anagnoson stated that in Madera and Chowchilla Subbasins, the total allocation is greater than the consumptive use.
Overall in both the Madera and Chowchilla Subbasins, the actual evapotranspiration (ETAW) is well below the allocated ETAW
- Anticipated $500/acre feet penalty in 2022
- Anticipated fees
- More fallow (or resting land) in 2022
In the County GSA, Madera Subbasin, approximately 30 percent of the farm units were over their allocation (8,000 acre feet of overuse).
In the County GSA, Chowchilla Subbasin, approximately 40 percent of the farm units were over their allocation (4,000 acre feet of overuse). Approximately $1,200,000 would have been generated by penalties
She stated that penalty revenue can be used for SGMA-related purposes, but is very unreliable.
Hence, she consider tiers for penalties:
• 1 to 15 percent – $100/acre feet over allocation
• 16 to 30 percent – $250/acre foot over allocation
• 31 percent or more – $500/acre foot over allocation
Supervisor Robert Poythress recommended tiers decline by 5 percent per year. Supervisor Jordan Wamhoff expressed support for the existing fees.
Supervisor David Rogers urged for an incremental increase in fees.
Director for Water and Natural Resources Stephanie Anagnoson stated that the penalties apply for those who are above allocation.
Nataly Escobedo Garcia from Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability suggested pumping caps and expressed support for the penalties.
Benjamin Martin, a real estate broker, urged the board to protect farmers.
Christina Beck from Madera County Farm Bureau asked for the final changes in the Irriwatch findings to be discussed before the adoption of the tier penalty structure.
Priscilla Williams from Chowchilla stated that they are running out of water.
Ralph Pistoresi offered Priscilla Williams tanks filled with water. He also pointed out that the penalties create uncertainty among farmers and businesses.
Mark Mihara from Madera Ag Water Coalition urged that GSAs must acquire a percentage of flood water that is pumped to the ocean.
Devin Aviles suggested that floodwaters must be utilized and fees to be lower due to the margin of error in water data.
Supervisor Robert Poythress said that the penalties only cover parcels who go beyond the allocation.
Supervisor Jordan Wamhoff suggested the GSA push for water projects and groundwater recharge.
Mike Alamari voiced opposition for the penalties.
Supervisors Macaulay, Wamhoff, and Rogers voted no. Supervisors Poythress and Gonzalez voted yes.
7.b. 9172: The board discussed a resolution adopting a policy for Groundwater Recharge Credit to be applied to groundwater allocations for the Chowchilla, Delta-Mendota and Madera Subbasins.
Growers identified numerous recharge possibilities. A survey identified approximately 40,000 acres of willing growers with projects. Grants were applied for beginning with “low hanging fruit.”
Keys for recharge include legal ability to take water, suitable soil and crops (for flood-mar), and capitalizing on existing infrastructure.
In Chowchilla Subbasin, $4.2 million dollars was allotted from Prop 68 (Round 1) for Flood-MAR projects from Eastside Bypass.
Design includes permanent points-of-diversion from bypass and conveyance infrastructure to appropriate landowners. The project covers about 2,900 acres of Flood-MAR, about 64 acres in basins.
Madera Subbasin was allotted $4.2 million dollars for Flood-MAR projects and a dedicated recharge basin from MID laterals.
Design includes three new turnouts and one rehabilitated turnout. The grant covers about 2,500 acres of existing agricultural land
In Chowchilla Subbasin, $3.2 million dollars was allotted from Prop 68 (Round 1) for Flood-MAR projects from the Eastside Bypass
Design includes two points-of-diversion from the Eastside Bypass to appropriate landowners for Flood-MAR. The grant includes about 700 acres of existing agricultural land
On the Madera Subbasin-Bypass Floodwater Recharge, $542,300 was allotted for future Flood-MAR projects.
The grant consists of planning, design, permitting, public outreach for one turnout and conveyance to appropriate landowners
The recharge covers about 2,600 acres of existing agricultural land.
2023 has been off to a wet start. Landowners along the bypass are eligible to take water for flood relief, but have no legal basis to generate a credit against their allocation.
County staff engaged with DWR to expedite water rights applications. Staff is expecting two authorized temporary water rights for diversions along the bypass.
The GSA is utilizing water availability analysis based on flood conditions for potential third water right along additional flood control infrastructure.
County staff participate in the state-wide Flood-MAR Coordinating Committee.
DWR Merced Watershed work provided a nexus and direct example for flood condition water availability analysis. Staff has been closely coordinating with the DWR team lead.
Grant-funded projects are pursuing permanent water rights for ongoing project operations, once constructed.
County works in close coordination with partner agencies to achieve recharge goals (TTWD, AWD).
75 percent credit for water applied in the 2023 Temporary Emergency Recharge Policy.
Water application must be lawful. The policy is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2023. Landowners are responsible for conveyance, permit compliance, easement acquisition, and others.
Feedback echoed desire for higher percent credit and using the credit beyond 2023.
Supervisor David Rogers urged staff to provide information to legislators. He suggested expansion of the credit to 80 percent in order to be “economically viable.”
Larkin Harman suggested the board have a “free market approach” in the policy.
Larry Patrowski stated that the policy excludes water recharge on dairy and almond farms. He urged the board to push back against state policy.
Mark Peters said that the policy is restrictive and sought the board to “look at the bigger picture.”
Christina Beck from Madera County Farm Bureau said that the permits are not streamlined. She said she has concerns about the lack of cleanliness in waterways.
Noah Lopez from Madera Ag Water Association suggested for the recharge credits to be more than 70 percent, which will be flexible for farmers.
The board decided to discuss the item in the next board meeting.
Public hearings consist of the following:
8.a. 9155: Community Facilities District No. 2022-1.
1. The board (5-0) adopted a resolution establishing a Community Facilities District (CFD), designate improvement areas, authorize the levy of special tax therein, calling an election for each improvement area, and approving and authorizing certain actions related thereto.
2. The board requested that the Chief Clerk of the Board announce the election results.
For propositions A and B, the results are:
- Gunner Trust: 398 voted in favor of the CFD
- Gunner Ranch: 278 voted in favor of the CFD
- Valley Children’s Hospital : 267 votes of the CFD
- United Health Services: 7 voted in favor of CFD
- Ronald McDonald House: 9 votes in favor of the CFD
3. The board (5-0) adopted a resolution certifying election results for Improvement Area No. 1 and Improvement Area No. 2 of County of Madera Community Facilities District No. 2022-1 (Gunner Ranch Public Services).
4. The board (5-0) introduced an ordinance levying the special taxes within CFD 2022- 1 (Gunner Ranch Public Services) Improvement Area No. 1 and No. 2; and waive the reading set the second reading for February 7, 2023.
The adoption of the resolutions of intention officially began the proceedings for the formation of CFD No. 2022-1 with the two improvement areas.
A Rate and Method of Apportionment of Special Taxes (RMA) for each improvement area has been developed to fund the services for Improvement Area No. 1 and services for Improvement Area No. 2.
The facilities to be funded through the CFD for Improvement Area No. 1 include any real property or other tangible property with an estimated useful life of five or more years that is owned and operated by the county or any other public agency in accordance with the Mello-Roos Community Facilities Act of 1982, as amended.
The services to be funded for both Improvement Areas include services that would otherwise be provided by the County Service Area, such as the maintenance and lighting of parks, parkways, street, roads and open space, flood and storm protection services, maintenance and operation of any real property meeting the criteria, and sheriff and fire protection services.
The RMA for each improvement area includes an annual Services Special Tax to fund the eligible facilities and services in perpetuity, with reserves funds and an escalation factor based on the Consumer Price Index specified in the RMA to be utilized by the County, not to exceed five percent in any year.
Closed sessions are as follows:
2.a. 9177: Request for closed session:
Government Code Section 54957.6
Conference with labor negotiators
Agency designated representatives: Roman Noriega, Human Resources Director; Joel Bugay, Deputy County Administrative Officer-Finance; and Susan Carter, Human Resources Manager Employee Organization: ALL UNITS
Unrepresented Employees: All Classifications (Excluding Elected Officials)
2.b. 9187: Request for closed session:
Government Code Section 54956.9 (d)(1)
Conference with legal counsel- existing litigation
Name of Case: Madera Irrigation District vs. County of Madera (Madera County Superior Court Case Number MCV087598).
2.c. 9198: Request for closed session:
Government Code Section 54956.9 (d)(1)
Conference with legal counsel – existing litigation
Name of Case: Madera Irrigation District and Madera Irrigation District Groundwater Sustainability Agency vs. Madera County Groundwater Sustainability Agency, Madera County Board of Supervisors, and County of Madera (Madera County Superior Court Case Number MCV086277)
The meeting lasted until 2 p.m. The next board meeting will be on Tuesday, Feb. 7 2023, at 9:00 a.m.
If you believe anything in these notes is inaccurate, please email us at Fresnodocs@fresnoland.org with “Correction Request” in the subject line.