Supervisors want to keep the streetlights lit

Debra Moore
Staff Writer

The streetlights will stay on in Crescent Mills thanks to an influx of cash from the Plumas County Board of Supervisors, but what about the rest of the county?

Ultimately, the supervisors plan to discuss a countywide lighting district.

During the board’s Nov. 12 meeting, the supervisors voted to give $2,128 to the Crescent Mills Lighting District to balance its 2013-14 budget.

Public Works Director Bob Perreault told the supervisors that the lighting district has struggled for years, with expenses outpacing revenue.

“How are other lighting districts taking care of themselves?” Supervisor Sherrie Thrall asked.

Perreault explained the lighting districts were formed with different tax decisions that provide the revenue. He said that Indian Valley is facing challenging circumstances, and within the next year Quincy would also struggle.

“The Quincy Lighting District used to be in fine shape, then we merged with the East Quincy Lighting District and that changed the dynamic,” he said.

Board observers Larry Douglas and Todd Anderson weighed in on the discussion.

Douglas, a Portola resident, said he was against giving the funds to Crescent Mills. “I believe these districts are formed to be self-supporting,” he said. “I’m opposed to this. It’s using the funds of the entire county to support a few.”

But Anderson, an Indian Valley resident, disagreed. “For travelers coming up the Canyon, it’s the first stop,” he said and added that it’s important for it to be safe and welcoming.

Supervisor Kevin Goss, who represents the area, said he agreed with both men’s arguments.

He said it was important for the lights to remain on in Crescent Mills and described what it was like to drive through town when the power had gone out. He added that it was important to find a solution for the entire county.

Perreault said that his department would pay for an engineering report to address countywide needs.

“I can make the argument that lighting and road safety is a road department issue,” he said.

Perreault said the report would help guide the county through the available options.

Supervisor Lori Simpson said it can be complicated because some people “want to feel safe” while others “want dark skies.”


Legal help

The Board of Supervisors is turning to an outside law firm for help in negotiating with its employees.

For the past three years County Counsel Craig Settlemire and Human Resources Director Gayla Trumbo have negotiated with employee unions, but they don’t have the time to continue the work.

“We’re not doing this because we’re unhappy with Gayla and Craig’s work,” Supervisor Sherrie Thrall said. “But we have so many negotiations coming up; we think this is a good move.”

Not only is it a time factor, but Sherrie added that it also “takes them out of the political mix.”

The county has nine bargaining units with contracts that have already expired or soon will.

The firm of Liebert Cassidy and Whitmore will represent the county in negotiations. Attorney fees range from $180 to $375 per hour, with paraprofessional and litigation support staff billed at $70 to $160 per hour.


Find work at social services

Social Services Director Elliott Smart received authorization to fill one vacancy, and said he would be returning to the board in December to fill another opening.

“The incumbent accepted employment in Susanville,” Smart said of the first vacancy, “and another is leaving in two weeks.”

The available position is for a benefits assistance counselor.


Chilcoot cleanup funds

It could result in a delay of several months, but the supervisors don’t want to miss an opportunity to receive grant funds to clean up a blighted parcel of land in Chilcoot.

Last month the supervisors voted to take $30,000 from the county’s contingency fund to pay for the cleanup, with the hope that some of the money would be recouped through salvage sales and placing a lien on the property.

During the Nov. 12 meeting, Public Works Director Bob Perreault told the supervisors about a state grant that could pay for the cleanup, but the application isn’t due until February and the awards wouldn’t be presented until April.

Board chairman Terry Swofford asked Perreault if he thought the county would receive a grant. Perreault said that he was optimistic.

Though the board worried about the delay, County Counsel Craig Settlemire said it would take a couple of months for the cleanup to get through the legal process, and Perreault said that weather would be another factor.

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