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Amador County – Jackson City Council denied an appeal of a demolition permit Monday for part of a structure on Court Street, on a 3-2 vote.

Planning Commissioner Dave Butow appealed the demolition permit of part of a building at 215 Court Street. City Manager Mike Daly said the Council held two hours of discussion of the appeal, with testimony by Butow, but mostly by two main speakers in support of the appeal, Gary Reinoehl and Bill Orescan.

Orescan is a neighbor of the home, whose owners, Jim Carter and Linda Cantando, want to tear down part of one structure for parking.

Daly said the demolition permit was approved and one of the requirements is that the owners have to acquire a performance bond, so if they start the project, that it is guaranteed to be finished. Dave Butow, who recused himself when the Planning Commission heard and approved the demolition permit on Jan. 30, filed a $200 appeal of the permit award on Feb. 9.

Butow, Orescan and Reinoehl argued that the building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Daly said they were concerned that a portion of the building to be removed was historically significant to the appearance of the building. Daly said the section to be demolished was originally built as a covered porch, then later enclosed.

The National Register said the home, the Grace Blair DePue House was built in 1872, and the porches were enclosed in 1950. It was restored in 1980 to the 1900 appearance, “short of reopening the side porches.”

A Planning Staff report said “on Jan. 17, the Jackson Design Review Committee met and concluded that the addition is not a historic resource and that removal would improve the historic value of the main structure.” The “Committee voted unanimously to recommend Planning Commission approval of the demolition and directed the applicant to have the new exterior look ‘seamless’ with the remaining structure.”

Jackson Mayor Pat Crew and Councilwoman Marilyn Lewis voted against approval. Daly said the other three Council members felt it was not a significant portion of the building, and that it is in a dilapidated condition, and its non-consistency with the rest of the building permitted it to be demolished.

The owners are working with the city Building Department to get the performance bond. Daly said part of the discussion was the owners’ ultimate plan for the property. They would like to convert the building into a duplex. In order to do that, he said they need to go through a conditional use hearing before the Planning Commission, in part to assess whether it would have enough parking. Daly said it would probably start with the city Site Plan Review Committee, made up of staff, and the appointed group, the Design Review Committee.

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Amador County – A mediated negotiation session between the United Food & Commercial Workers and Raley’s ended Friday, June 8, and no new talks were scheduled, with the contract extended on a day-by-day basis.

The Union offered a proposal which Raley’s management rejected, saying it would increase the company’s operating costs. Raley’s spokesman John Segale, released details of the mediation Friday, saying the union also is “demanding that we provide the union with the full authority to develop a new contract agreement with no input from Raley’s while guaranteeing it would win approval from its members.”

Segale said Raley’s was “stunned and disappointed to receive such an outrageous contract offer from the union leadership.” He said it would “increase our operating costs an additional $20 million in just the first year of the contract including requiring us to pay signing bonuses, provide wage increases and increase the cost of our health and welfare plan.”

He said “union leaders demanded that we give them complete authority to develop a final agreement without any input” on what our company would be required to pay. “It is very frustrating to attempt to negotiate with a union leadership that seems so out of touch with the realities of today’s economy.”

He said Raley’s faces “tremendous competitive pressures and we must lower our operating expenses immediately. Clearly, the union leadership is ignoring these facts and seems intent on destroying Raley’s while eliminating the jobs of 3,400 of its members.”

UFCW’s Local 8 President Jacques Loveall made a statement Friday saying the union’s “goal is to avoid a labor dispute, to stabilize morale, to regain harmonious labor relations and to protect the Raley’s brand. Our intention is to structure an agreement to address the legitimate competitive challenges of the employer while maintaining the security and dignity of the Union membership.”

Local 8 proposed that the parties agree to an “audit to justify the company’s claims of need for financial relief.” They also proposed “instruction of the Union and Employer accountants and actuaries to establish a budget for labor costs based on the audit findings.”

The proposal also sought “empowering of the Union bargaining committee to structure an overall settlement for membership recommendation.”

Loveall in the statement said the Union bargaining committee “has an unparalleled depth of experience in designing benefits packages, administering and negotiating contracts, understanding the expectations of the membership and creating sensible solutions.”

He said “with the cooperation of the employer in this efficient process, the Union will design a settlement within the agreed-upon budget, in an expedited fashion with the assurance of an unconditional recommendation of ratification to the membership.”

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Thursday, 14 June 2012 01:39

Huber's AB-1191 passes Senate committee

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Amador County – Assemblywoman Alyson Huber’s AB-1191 to restore funding to Amador County made it through the Senate Governance and Finance Committee Wednesday, and next will go before the full Senate for a vote.

Jackson City Manager Mike Daly attended the hearing at the state capital in Sacramento and was encouraged by the unanimous vote. He said he believes the next step is a full Senate vote, and “given the unanimous vote of the committee, I expect that that should go well.”

Daly said the funding was the most significant variable still unknown for the city’s budget, and AB 1191 is a “potential fix to the unanticipated loss in the General Fund due to a quirk in the ‘triple flip,’ vehicle license fee (VLF) swap and Education Revenue Augmentation Fund (ERAF), a process established to satisfy the state deficit bonds issued in 2005 and meet funding requirements of Proposition 98.”

Daly, in a report to the Jackson City Council Monday, said that “due to the decline in property tax and the recently determined ‘basic aid’ status of the Amador County Unified School District, a portion of the VLF swap amount due to the cities and county was redirected to ACUSD. This resulted in a loss of approximately $100,000 in property tax revenue the past two years.”

He said “two potential fixes in the form of a State budget supplement and Assembly Bill 1191 introduced by Alyson Huber could remedy this problem. The budget amendment has cleared the early hurdles and AB1191” had a critical hearing in the Senate committee Wednesday, June 13, passing unanimously.

Daly said the budget language would reimburse the county and cities for losses in fiscal year 2010-2011, and AB 1191 moves forward with the start of fiscal year 2013. He said 1191 would require legislative reauthorization to reimburse the losses, and it provides a mechanism for that to occur.

Daly said it goes about as far as it needs to fix the losses. Jackson would get about $100,000, Ione about $200,000, and Amador County about $1.1 million. Sutter Creek and Plymouth would also get funds.

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Amador County – The Amador Water Agency Board of Directors on Thursday will consider a staff request to issue a “Request For Proposals” for an independent financial review of the ageny’s financial system structure, policies, procedures and reporting.

The AWA Finance Committee, made up of Director Robert Manassero and Director Art Toy, recommended the RFPs as well, said General Manager Gene Mancebo, who requested authorization in a staff report to the board for its Thursday regular meeting.

Mancebo requested that the board discuss and authorize him to issue a Request For Proposals to conduct an assessment of the AWA’s financial system structure, policies, procedures and reporting, and then to return to the board with a recommended consultant to perform the review.

At the May 24 board meeting, the board gave direction to the Budget and Finance Committee “to review an expanded scope of work regarding services for an independent financial review,” Mancebo said. The committee met June 6 and recommended a draft RFP and scope of work.

Mancebo said as discussed during previous board meetings, the agency would benefit from a review of its finance systems, and the review “should be performed by an accounting firm which has relevant experience with water districts.” The RFP requires 15 years’ experience in California.

Mancebo said AWA is independently audited each year by a firm “which consistently has provided opinions that clearly show the Water Agency meets all financial requirements set forth by the Controller General of the United States and the State Controller’s Minimum Audit Requirements for California Special Districts as a whole.”

Mancebo said the scope recommended would not include any financial planning or rate analysis. He said the request would be for the outside firm to assess the AWA’s financial system “on a more detailed functional level and make recommendations that can improve efficiencies, effectiveness and ease of meeting reporting requirements and information requests, and enhance the financial transparency of the Water Agency.”

Mancebo said alternatives would be to continue with the current system and procedures with no external review. They could also conduct an internal assessment and provide recommendations; or consider revisions to the RFP.

The proposed scope would “examine the overall structure of AWA’s accounting system,” and examine “various fund relationships and associated account hierarchy for transfers.” It would also examine AWA procedures and practices for ensuring proper, consistent entries and would look at “the potential for automating payroll activities and potential fund and/or account consolidation.”

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Amador County – The U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management Mother Lode Office announces fire restrictions effective Monday, June 11.

Spokesman Jeff Fontana said BLM is implementing fire restrictions on all BLM-managed public lands within the Mother Lode Field Office boundary. This includes a total of about 230,000 acres of BLM-managed public lands in Amador, Nevada, Yuba, Placer, El Dorado, Sacramento, Calaveras, Tuolumne, Stanislaus, Sutter, and Mariposa counties. Fontana said the fire restrictions will remain in effect until further notice.

Fire Management Officer Gerald Martinez said the “restrictions prohibit all open fires on public lands because of extremely dry conditions.” He said “with the recent high temperatures, fuels are extremely dry.”

Campers are urged to be familiar with special limitations prior to visiting any public lands in the Mother Lode Field Office counties. A valid California campfire permit is required for all fires.

Campfire permits are available free of charge at any BLM, Forest Service, or California Department of Forestry Office, but campers need to be aware of restrictions in the area they are visiting.

Restrictions that apply include no open fires except in designated campgrounds, open fire stoves, lanterns and portable stoves using gas, jellied petroleum or pressurized liquid fuel. Welding or use of any torch with an open flame, is also prohibited, except by special permit.

No use of explosives is allowed, except by special permit. Operating internal combustion engines is also restricted, except on maintained roads. Firing tracers or incendiary devices capable of starting a fire are also restricted, as are fireworks.

Violations are punishable by fines up to $1,000 and/or imprisonment for up to one year in jail.

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Amador County – Plymouth City Council will hold a special meeting Wednesday to consider whether it wants to place a statement on the November ballot with its Transient Occupancy Tax measure.

The regular meeting was moved to Wednesday to accommodate a schedule conflict. The council typically meets on the second and fourth Thursday of the month.

The agenda also includes discussion and possible action on whether the council or some portion of the council would like to submit arguments for the Transient Occupancy Tax measure and the accompanying advisory measure.

The measure, if passed, would change the Transient Occupancy Tax from 6 percent to 10 percent. The tax is charged on hotel and motel rentals, for “transient” visitors, which state law defines as those staying less that 30 days.

The extra 4 percent would be used for streets and advertising to promote tourism. The Advisory measure would determine how the tax funding was spent. The previous TOT measure tried by Plymouth failed to get a two-thirds majority of votes, while its accompanying advisory measure did achieve the two-thirds majority.

The agenda includes a presentation by ACES Waste Services on fiscal impacts of the cost to provide service in Plymouth and a request to support an increase in solid waste rates for city customers. ACES seeks an increase due to a dumping fee increase of 25 percent at Sacramento’s Keifer Landfill. ACES has also sought a rate change in Jackson, which was approved by the Jackson City Council.

The Plymouth City Council will also consider approving a contract with Weber, Ghio and Associates engineering for 2012 through 2017 and will also consider approving a list of qualified engineering firms to work for the city.

The council will also consider a proclamation for Marla Moreno, and will also meet in closed session to start the meeting, with a conference with legal counsel. The closed session will include discussion of anticipated litigation, and significant exposure to litigation, including three potential cases.

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Amador County – Amador County Assessor Jim Rooney recently announced that his office is just starting to review the coming tax year’s property assessments that may be too high.

Rooney said: “One of the most important duties of this office is to make sure that assessments are not higher than their fair market. With the declining real estate market the fair market values of many properties have declined to levels lower than their established assessments and adjustments have been made.” He said “because of the rural and unique nature of the county it is a large and complicated task.”

Rooney said: “A goal of this office is to have no property in the county assessed higher than its fair market value.” He has “been proactive in the reduction of assessments however, because of reduced revenues to the county our resources to find and reduce high assessments are less than what they have been. This has made finding and lowering high assessments a more difficult task.”

Rooney said: “While it is our job to make sure that assessments are correct, there is also some responsibility on each property owner. So, we are asking property owners to look at their assessments to help make sure they are accurate.”

The easiest way is to look at the assessment and if owners think the property value is less than the assessment, they may be eligible for a reduction and should request a review. Property owners may provide comparable sales data or specific data for the Assessor’s office to consider.

Most reduced assessments are for properties purchased in the last 10 years, so homes purchased after 2002 likely are in line for reduction, he said. If the review indicates assessed value higher than fair market value, it will be reduced. If review indicates fair market value is higher than assessed value, no action is taken, “so there is no risk of an increased assessment when requesting a review.”

Rooney said every year the Assessor is mandated to put values on all properties in the county. Property owners will be paying property taxes based on the values. He said: “In the past this job was much easier because property values were going up faster than assessments. This hasn’t been true in the past few years.”

He estimated more than 4,500 assessments were reduced last year, “a substantial portion of residential properties” in Amador County. If an assessment has been reduced in the past few years, there is no need to request another review as it will be reviewed automatically.

Rooney said reviews should be completed by mid-July to late July. If a property owner has not received a notice from the Assessor by Aug. 15 or they disagree with the assessment, a request for review should be made.

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Amador County – Amador County and regional authorities on Monday began a second day of searching for a San Francisco man who went missing after he was last seen swimming Sunday afternoon in North Shore Lake Camanche.

Amador County Undersheriff Jim Wegner released details of the missing person investigation, saying that at about 12:43 p.m. on Sunday, June 10, the Amador County Sheriff’s Department was notified of a possible missing person at North Shore Lake Camanche.

It was reported that at about 11:30 a.m., Remigio Munoz Junior, 31, of San Francisco was swimming in the area of Day Use Point. He was last seen swimming past the point and out of view of his friends and family. Upon realizing that Munoz had not returned, his friends and family, checked the area but did not see Munoz in the water. At that time they reported Munoz as missing.

Amador County Sheriff’s Deputies, East Bay Municipal Utilities District Rangers and a California Department of Fish and Game Warden conducted an extensive search of the grounds for Munoz, whose personal property including his cellular telephone, keys and wallet were still at his campsite, Wegner said.

An Amador County Sheriff’s Marine Unit, a Calaveras County Sheriff’s Marine Unit and a Sacramento Police Department Helicopter conducted a search of the waterway around Day Use Point. The Amador County Sheriff’s Dive Team responded to the scene and conducted an underwater search.

The search for Munoz resumed Monday morning with the Amador County Sheriff’s Dive Team targeting previously unsearched areas.

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Amador County – St. Sava Mission Foundation is planning a Golden Jubilee Celebration in July to mark the 50th anniversary of the St. Sava Mission in Jackson.

The Foundation will have its annual meeting that weekend, July 7, and plans the celebration Friday through Sunday, July 6-8. The Foundation is publishing a commemorative book to celebrate the history of the Mission and all that it has meant to its members. The hardbound book will include photographs of the 50 years of Summer Camp, extracts from student scholarship essays about the Serbian culture and community, and greetings and dedications from the community and Mission friends and supporters.

The 50th Anniversary Golden Jubilee Committee of St. Sava Mission Foundation sought greetings, dedications, remembrances, or reminiscences in stories and photos for the book showing and telling of special memories at their Mission.

The Golden Jubilee plans a $100 round-trip luxury motor coach to pick up riders at 6 a.m. at St. George’s Church in San Diego; 8 a.m. at Most Holy Thotokos Church in Irvine; 9:30 a.m. at St. Steven’s Cathedral in Los Angeles; and 2 p.m. at St. Peter’s Church in Fresno. The coach will arrive in Jackson at 6 p.m. Friday, July 6, and return to San Diego by 9 p.m. on Sunday, July 8. Golden Jubilee also lists lodging packages in dormitories at the Mission.

The Foundation web archives told about the beginning of the Mission, saying in 1962, people of Serbian heritage in the western United States “set out to build a shining center of our culture, community and faith in Jackson,” which is “the site of the first Serbian Orthodox Christian church in North America.”

“Their goal was to build facilities for a children’s camp, a senior citizen’s home, education and other cultural and community needs.” Their vehicle was the independent incorporation of their group as the Foundation.

The archive said “St. Sava Mission Foundation continues to faithfully preserve its stewardship of this great and vital legacy. With the children’s camp long-built and successful, today our goals remain a Senior Citizen Assisted-Living Home for our people; a Serbian Heritage Museum, Library & Cultural Center; historical building preservation; student scholarships; sports facilities; and a Serb youth exchange program.” These are community and cultural goals that the Foundation was originally created to achieve in 1962.

The Foundation’s purpose is “to preserve and promote the educational, charitable, cultural and other institutions of people of Serbian heritage,” and “to promote and maintain activities commensurate and consistent with the ideals and teachings of our Serbian heritage.”

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Amador County – The Amador Integrated Waste Authority recently released its plan to help businesses meet new mandatory recycling law requirements for certain commercial and multi-unit housing businesses.

Amador County Solid Waste Program Manager Jim McHargue said in late May that the new Mandatory Commercial Recycling law takes effect on July 1. He said the new law requires businesses and multifamily complexes to recycle, if they meet certain criteria.

Assembly Bill 341, authored by Assembly Member Wesley Chesbro of Arcata, will require all businesses that generate four cubic yards or more of garbage per week to recycle. AB341 will also require all multifamily complexes of 5 units or more, such as apartments, to also recycle.

McHargue said the Amador County Integrated Waste Management Regional Agency, a joint powers authority consisting of all five incorporated cities and Amador County, formed an ad hoc committee more than a year ago to work on developing a program to comply with the new state mandate.

He said the “ad hoc committee has worked hard to strike a balance between enabling businesses and multifamily complexes to meet the requirements of the new law, while at the same time not burdening them with the excessive costs of a new unfunded state mandate.”

All businesses and multifamily complexes that meet the threshold for the Mandatory Commercial Recycling will receive a letter from ACES Waste Services with information on how to comply with the new regulation. These businesses will receive a 96 gallon recycling cart at no additional cost on their garbage bill. If a business or complex desires more recycling services beyond the base level, additional services will be made available upon request at additional cost.

A second component to AB 341 is a statewide recycling goal of 75%. Currently all cities and counties in California are required to meet the 50% diversion goal established in AB 939, the Integrated Waste Management Act of 1989. McHargue said the new law, AB 341, sets a new diversion goal of 75% to be achieved by January 1, 2020.

He said the Amador County Integrated Waste Management Regional Agency currently has a diversion rate equivalent to 70%.

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