Documented by Kristina Mansfield

Here’s what you need to know

  • Madera County’s Treasurer-Tax Collector Tracy Kennedy said 61,000 tax bills have been mailed to Madera County residents, representing $254 million in revenue for the county, an increase of $26 million over last year.
  • The Madera County Department of Behavioral Health will host its Inaugural “Rally to Recovery” on Sept. 23 at Courthouse Park from 9 a.m.  to 1 p.m. to celebrate National Recovery Month. 
  • The No. 1 crop in Madera County – figs – fell out of the top 10 in the recently released 2022 Madera County Crop and Livestock Report. 

Follow-up questions

  • Which employees are being dismissed and why?
  • Does the Madera County Department of Behavioral Health partner with any rehabilitation programs that aren’t faith based?

The Scene

The regular meeting of the Madera County Board of Supervisors took place Sept. 19 at 9 a.m. in the Board Chambers of the Government Center in Madera, located at 200 W. 4th St. The board – made up of five elected officials, each representing one of five supervisorial districts of the county – is the legislative and executive governing body of Madera County government. According to its website, the board meets regularly the first three Tuesdays of each month and occasionally on Mondays. 

Per the agenda, “the Board of Supervisors meets simultaneously as the Board of Supervisors, the Board of Directors of all Dependent Special Districts governed by the board, the Board of Directors of County Groundwater Sustainability Agencies, the County Public Financing Authority and the Flood Control and Water Conservation Agency.”

The meeting was made available via WebEx and YouTube Live. Members of the public are encouraged to attend and participate in meetings and can do so either in-person or virtually via Zoom. Forty-five people attended the Sept. 19 meeting. 

After each meeting concludes, a live recording is made available online, along with meeting minutes, a full agenda and packet (which includes additional information about each item discussed on the agenda with contact information for each supervisor and department that is responsible for each item). 

Members of the Board in Attendance: 

Jordan Wamhoff, District 1

David Rogers, District 2

Robert L. Poythress, District 3

Leticia Gonzalez, District 4

Robert Macaulay, District 5

Also in attendance was Karen Scrivner, chief clerk. 

Rogers called the meeting to order at 9 a.m. and asked Chief Clerk Karen Scrivnerto read the closed session agenda items into the record.

Agenda Item 1: Additions to the Agenda

There were no additions to the agenda. 

Agenda Item 2: Closed Session 

There were four items on the closed session agenda:

  • Item 2a: Conference with Labor Negotiators
    • Government Code Section 54957.6 states that closed sessions of a legislative body of a local agency, as permitted in this section, shall be for the purpose of reviewing its position and instructing the local agency’s designated representatives.
    • The agency’s designated representatives are Roman Noriega, Human Resources Director; Joel Bugay, Assistant County Administrative Officer; and Susan Carter, Human Resources Manager. 
  • Items 2b – 2e: Public Employee Performance Evaluations
    • Government Code Section 54957 deals with Public Employee Discipline/ Dismissal/Release policy. The listed titles of positions for the requested closed sessions are chief clerk of the board, chief of development services and County Administrative Officer.
  • No reportable action came from the closed session. 

Open and Close the Meeting in Memory Of: “No one’s leaving this world right now,” said Rogers. 

Agenda Item 3: Invocation and Pledge of Allegiance 

Pastor Mike led the room in the Invocation and Pledge of Allegiance. 

Agenda Item 4: Public Comment

Next up was the public comment section of the meeting. This 15-minute block of time is set aside each meeting for members of the public to address the board on any matter under their jurisdiction that doesn’t appear on the agenda. 

  • First to speak was Madera County’s Treasurer-Tax Collector, Tracy Kennedy, who presented the board with their personal tax bills to announce the county’s tax bills are now available. First installments are due Nov. 1 but will not become delinquent until Dec. 11. “We also have e-alerts with over 9,000 people subscribed. They will all get a notification that the tax bills are out.” Kennedy said. “E-checks are free. Save a stamp, save a tree.”
  • Jamie Bax, Community and Economic Development deputy director, Madera County Housing Element, said its site’s inventory is now posted to the Housing Element website, and invited the public to provide any comments. 
  • Kelsey Brooker, representing the Alview Dairyland School District, raised concerns about the safety of the district’s students as they travel to and from school, stating that the bridge along 18 1/2 was closed due to unsafe conditions, causing rerouting of other roads throughout the district. “Our buses are currently using Avenue 21 to transport students. It’s the very lifeline that connects our communities, and it’s in need of substantial repairs,” Brooker said. “Safe passage is a fundamental right of schoolchildren and it directly impacts their ability to focus on their education.”
  • Another resident made similar comments about the safety of the roads in the area. “I can replace my vehicles. What I can’t replace is my grandson, or any of those kids that ride those buses.” 
  • Gilbert De La Fuente, a substance abuse disorder counselor with the Madera County Department of Behavioral Health that specializes in juveniles, introduced a young man who had gone through a program called Teen Challenge to the board. “The program really helped me understand that nothing in my life has been in vain,” he said; “and that I can use it as a testimony and as a springboard.”
  • Donald Murphy, a resident of Madera, spoke next. “When my son started [Sherman Thomas High School] in August, I looked at the principal and asked if there was anything I could do [for you]. She said ‘I need a sidewalk in front of the school’.” Murphy mentioned a child had been hit just that morning and cited the lack of crosswalks on that road as a contributing factor. Rogers said he understood Murphy’s concern and gave an update on the injured student. “Regarding the child, I did get a text from the sheriff, and the child is doing better. We pray for his full recovery. Thank you for bringing it forward.” 
  • Maiknue Vang, executive director for Workforce Development Board of Madera County, gave a project report about a $300,000 grant awarded to assist with repair and clean-up efforts in response to the Creek Fire Disaster. Some of the outcomes include: 267 miles of road cleared; 1,793 trees cut and removed; and almost 30,000 feet of brush that was cleared.
  • There were no public comments online. 

Agenda Item 5: Consent Calendar

  • Poythress pulled item 5-F for further discussion, noting that the California primary is slated for March 5 and additional changes need to be made to the schedule. 
  • Macaulay pulled item S. 
  • There were no public comments online. 
  • Vote passed 6-0

Agenda Item 6: Discussion Items

  • Item 6a: Behavioral Health Services Department
    • Various staff members of the Behavioral Health Services Department were presented with a proclamation naming September 2023 National Recovery Month. 
    • “Once folks start recovery and they have a support system that can help them remain in recovery, their lives start to transform,” said Connie Moreno-Peraza, Behavioral Health director of Madera County.  
  • Item 6b: Proclamation recognizing September 2023 as Old Timers’ Week
    • Poythress presented the proclamation to staff members that had worked on the project, likening the festivities to behavioral health. “It [Old Timers’ Week] started during the 1930s during the Great Depression as a way to support and uplift community spirits,” he said. “I don’t see anyone here old enough to have lived through the Depression, but certainly you’ve heard stories.” 
  • Item 6c: Proclamation recognizing Old Timers’ Week sponsors
    • The proclamation was presented again by Poythress, this time focusing on the donations from various corporate sponsors of the Old Timers’ Week program. 
  • Item 6d: Agricultural Commissioner/Sealer of Weights & Measures
    • Rusty Lantsberger, agricultural commissioner/sealer, presented the 2022 Madera County Crop and Livestock Report. According to its website, the purpose of the Madera County Department of Agricultural is to promote and protect the agricultural industry of Madera County from the spread of destructive pests, promoting the safe and responsible use of pesticides to allow for the protection of crops, and protecting human health and the environment.
    • Figs – the No. 1 crop in Madera County – fell out of the top 10 in this year’s report. Lantsberger attributed this simply to supply and demand.
    • Lantsberger also updated the board about the department’s activities so far this year. “We’ve been out and inspected over 1,400 commercial devices, and that includes 137 computing scales, 30 livestock and animal scales, 916 retail motor fuel meters and 17 vehicle scales.”
  • Item 6e: County Administration Department
    • Darin McCandless, deputy county administrative officer of Madera County, proposed two revisions to its current travel policy. The first was a procedural change to omit the county administrative office from the review and approval process. Second was the introduction of a provision allowing for reimbursement of employees who charge county vehicles at home. The motion passed unanimously.
  • Item 6f: County Administration Department – Assistance to Madera Community Hospital
    • Joel Bugay, deputy county administrative officer-finance, presented funding options to cover the burn rate of the Madera Community Hospital to the board. 
    • The following action items were approved: directing staff to reimburse the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Fund the $500,000 allocated to pay the operating expenses of Madera Community Hospital and directing staff to make weekly payments of $125,000 to the hospital, beginning on Sept. 29, not to exceed a total amount of $625,000 provided that three conditions are met. 
    • The three conditions limit the funding to expenses necessary for preserving the license and the hospital and not claims against the hospital; the county must be in communications with each of the hospital representatives, the creditor’s committee and Saint Agnes (Trinity Health), confirming that the payment of operating costs will ensure that the facility is kept in operating condition; the county receives confirmation that the Distressed Hospital Loan Program Bridge Loan has not yet been received. 
  • Item 6g: Human Resources Department
    • Board unanimously unanimously voted to approve the 2024 Health Insurance Benchmark Side Letters of Agreement. 

Agenda Item 7: Pending Legislation

  • Rogers said “We’re living in critical times and critical legislation is being passed.”

Agenda Item 8: Supervisors and Staff Reports 

  • Poythress joined a group of 22 people on an advocacy trip to Washington, D.C. and met with staff from the Department of Interior. 
  • Rogers met with members of congress at Cornerstone Church in Chowchilla. Over 800 men came together for Steak Night. “It was a fantastic community event that happens every year, including a car show.”
  • Wamhoff: “I have nothing to report.”
  • Gonzalez plans to attend the centennial celebration for Chowchilla on Saturday.

Agenda Item 9: Adjournment

  • The meeting was adjourned at 11:29 a.m. The next regular scheduled Board of Supervisor meetings is on Oct. 3.. 

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