Friday, July 29, 2016

[Shasta County] Grand jury outlines body camera use

Shasta County officials do not see any problems with how water customers are billed in rural neighborhoods during the summer and reject most of the findings of a Grand Jury report critical of how those services are managed.
The board of supervisors will respond to two county Grand Jury reports Tuesday: Management of veterans' services in Shasta County and how municipal services and water rates are charged to customers.
The county disagrees with nine of the 11 findings from the grand jury report on water management and says there is no money to create a separate agency to oversee these water customers in the neighborhoods of Keswick, Jones Valley and Crag View like the grand jury report recommends.
Currently the county's water agency is overseen and staffed by employees of the Shasta County Public Works Department who also manage, inspect, bill and repair the water systems for these customers. The grand jury found this overlap odd, because there could be a lack of checks and balances. There's also the matter of outdated water contracts and inefficient water purchases.
The county purchases water from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation as the Water Agency but also purchases water from the McConnell Foundation during the summer. The county agrees it will consider updating a 2005 contract on the matter of this purchased water.
The grand jury said two of these County Service Areas are owed money by the county and Keswick CSA was refunded $11,703.43 from the county in April this year. But the Crag View CSA was undercharged by as much as $7,016.59 and would not be issued a refund. There were also errors in how the grand jury factored the rate of water used by Crag View, said the county's response.
The McConnell water is purchased at a set amount, 250 acre-feet, and some water is lost. This can't be helped, according to the county, because over purchasing water is preferred to running into fines for over using water.
The county's water agency reported losses of $23,985 in 2014 and $18,225 in 2015 due to water purchases. In its report the grand jury said that money could go into staffing a new agency, which is not likely going to happen according to the county's response.
A second grand jury report that reviewed the Veterans Service Office in Redding will also be considered.
Getting services to veterans in Burney and placing college students to work in the VSO are already in place, said the county's response and were put in place before the grand jury report came out.
A criticism of the VSO's website was that it lacked any useful links. It was meant to be that way, said the county's response, in order to get clients to come into the VSO's office to see staff. Other links will be added by the end of this year to help veterans.
The VSO will not take the advice of the grand jury to start scheduling appointments for veterans, because walk-ins work better. Also, the grand jury's report is outdated when it says there is only one state accredited employee working out of the Redding office. There are two accredited employees now and more will be trained in the coming months so they can file claims for veteran benefits.
July 17, 2016
Redding Record Searchlight
By Nathan Solis

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