MENDOCINO Co., 1/5/21 — The Mendocino County Board of Supervisors will hold their first meeting of the year on Tuesday, January 5, and with two new supervisors sworn in, the board will be tackling a number of contentious and ongoing issues facing county government. Indeed, the last two election cycles have seen the retirement of the old guard, with Carre Brown, John McCowen, Dan Hamburg, and John Pinches gone, leaving Dan Gjerde as the only even twice-elected board member.
This new board is also somewhat younger than recent boards, and it should be interesting to see in what direction they take the county.
One of the major items up for discussion, and possible action, is a proposed $4 million hike to the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office over the next several years. Other big ticket items include the county’s cannabis cultivation permit program, COVID-19, and the purchase of a Ukiah hotel as part of the statewide “Project Room Key.”
All these topics have been the source of much conversation among the public and previous discussion at supervisors’ meetings.
The supervisors will also take up various tasks related to the new year and new supes, including new assignments and committee appointments for the supervisors, as well a number of contract approvals and other items, viewable in full here.
The meetings are being conducted remotely due to the pandemic, and can be viewed live on the county’s Youtube and Facebook pages. Public comment can be submitted electronically, but those wishing to comment can also call in by phone during the meeting. In order to call in, you must register in advance; iit is recommended that those wishing to do so register by 8 a.m. prior to the start of the meeting. People can register and call in during the meeting, which begins at 8 a.m., but may not be guaranteed to be able to comment and cannot comment on items which have already been discussed. This Tuesday’s agenda contains items to be discussed at any specific time.
Sheriff Kendall is requesting funds to support an additional ten deputies hired over three years, with a total budget request of $4,042,892 during that time, claiming that there has been an increase in organized crime and illegal cannabis cultivation resulting in the need for more deputies. Kendall initially discussed this request with the previous board at the October 6, 2020 supervisors meeting.
More information about the MCSO’s budget request can be found in the packet submitted along with the agenda, which includes a number of different slides featuring various categories of crime statistics, as well as two photos originally posted by residents to social media. One photo claims to be caught by a game camera and shows a man in shadow with a large backpack and what appears to be a an assault rifle; the other shows a man hogtied in the dirt. Below the photos is the caption “Imminent threat — appropriate response.”
This photo and the presentation in which it was included caused some stir over the weekend. In response, Kendall issued a statement on Facebook
The cannabis agenda item is centered on the hundreds of applicants in limbo who applied during the first phase of the county’s cultivation permitting process which began in 2016, and which is currently in a morass of regulatory confusion over potential CEQA issues preventing those applicants from receiving the required state annual permits.
The cannabis ad hoc committee, consisting of supervisors John Haschak and Ted Williams, recently held a meeting (watch here) to update applicants and the public on the ongoing negotiations with state agencies to ensure local permitted farmers could receive annual permit approval from the state regulatory agencies governing cannabis and environmental regulations. At the time of that meeting, on December 16, there had not been a clear path established for the majority of those who had secured local temporary permits to receive the state annual permit required for operation in the dual licensing system beginning in 2022. The current proposal is to create a list of approved consultants to help the phase one cultivators permitted by the county to navigate any additional environmental regulations required to receive state permits.
Here’s is an outline of the MCSO proposal below:
The first expense category is personnel. MCSO staff used the salary scale of a Deputy Sheriff Coroner II 5% at Step 1 to project the cost of this category. The reason for using a Deputy Sheriff Coroner II 5% is that MCSO would ideally hire lateral peace officers for their training and experience. However, not all new Deputies will be lateral hires. The projected cost of a Deputy Sheriff Coroner I is approximately 20% less than Deputy Sheriff Coroner II 5%. The following projected cost is therefore the maximum obligation that MCSO expects to expend on personnel for the additional 10 Deputies. Personnel includes regular pay ($77,724 per employee), FICA ($4,733 per employee), Medicare ($1,104 per employee), retirement ($41,240 per employee), retirement COLA ($13,819 per employee), healthcare ($6,293 per employee). Personnel also includes overtime pay. This expense depends on community needs and natural and public health emergencies. Overtime pay is projected to be $14,573 in year 1, $26,232 in year 2 and $38,473 in year 3. The total cost of personnel is $619,029 in year 1, $1,109,511 in year 2 and $1,622,852 in year 3. Year 2 and 3 include an estimated 5% COLA and step increase. The projected personnel cost for 10 deputies over a 3-year period is$3,351,392.
The second expense category is education and training. Education and training includes the cost of sending recruits to the Police Academy ($5,000 per employee), field trainings ($481 per employee), and perishable skills trainings ($234 per employee). MCSO expects to expend $22,860 on education and training in year 1, and $17,145 in year 2 and 3. The projected cost of education and training for all 10 deputies is $57,150.
The third category is law enforcement supply and services. This category includes external and concealable vests ($1,145 per employee), firearms and ammunition ($1,500 per employee), safety equipment ($1,000 per employee), and safety clothing ($750 per employee). MCSO expects to expend $ $17,580 in year 1, $ $19,185 in year 2, and $ $23,685 in year 3. The total amount of each year after year 1 includes the recurring cost of ammunition for the guns purchased in the previous year. The projected cost of this category for all 10 deputies is $60,450.
The fourth category is transportation and travel-the cost of fuel and maintenance on the vehicles purchased. A patrol vehicle averages 15,000 miles per year. It costs MCSO $0.54 per mile to fuel and maintain each vehicle. That total cost of fuel and maintenance is therefore $8,100 per vehicle. MCSO expects to expend $32,400 on transportation and travel in year 1 for 4 vehicles, $56,700 in year 2 for 7 vehicles, and $64,800 in year 3 for 8 vehicles. The projected cost of transportation and travel over a 3-year period is $153,900.
The final category is equipment, specifically the purchase of vehicles. This cost depends on the assignment of the 10 Deputies. MCSO expects to purchase 4 cars-3 patrol vehicles and 1 undercover vehicle-in year 1, 2 additional patrol vehicles and 1 undercover in year 2, and 1 additional patrol in year 3. The estimated vehicle cost, including equipment and build costs, for a standard patrol vehicle is $55,000 per car and for an undercover vehicle is $45,000 per car. MCSO expects to expend $210,000 in year 1, and $155,000 in year 2, and $55,000 in year 3. The projected cost of all 8 vehicles is $420,000.