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Indian Valley Record
Greenville, California
June 29, 2011     Indian Valley Record
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June 29, 2011

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Vol. 81, No. 32 Feather Publishing Co., Inc. I guide naoe 1 B. 5,30-284-7800 Serving Greenville and all of the indian Valley Area 5O Wednesday, June 29, 2011 PUSD to consider solar Delaine Fragnoli Managing Editor What if someone offered to install your solar panels for free, pay for all the mainte- nance and repairs, imple- ment other energy-saving measures, cut your electrici- ty usage by 12 percent, guar- antee you no more than a 2.5 p'ercent increase in electric rates and give you a check at the end of each year for elec- tricity generated above and beyond your usage? That's the basic proposition Indoor Environmental Ser- vices (IES) outlined for school board members at their June 21 meeting." Howdoes IES intend to de- liver on the sounds-too-good- to-be-true promise? The deal would involve three entities. IES would pro- vide the technical know-how and installation. Another group, IEC, would form a lim- ited liability company (LLC) that would own, operate, in- sure and protect the solar in- stallation. PUSD would sign a power purchase agreement with IEC to buy the solar- generated power, instead of See Solar, page 3A Taylorsville - celebrates Lorraine Hanson of the Taylorsville Community United Methodist Church serves up slices of pie during the first Jobe Taylor Day in Taylorsville. Celebrations, which also included two weddings, stretched the length of the town from the campground to the Grange Hall and over to the historic Pearce Ranch. Photo by Alicia Knadler District to tap reserves Delaine Fragnoli Managing Editor The governing board of Plumas Unified School Dis- trict followed suit with Plumas County and Feather River College in adopting a don't-call-it-a-done-deal bud- get last Tuesday, June 21. With the state budget still up in the air and numerous issues yet to be resolved in Sacra- mento, board members decided not to decide on a number of points and passed a proposed budget with a projected $4 mil- lion in deficit spending. At one point, trustee Bret Cook asked Business Director Yvonne Bales, "We're punting with this proposed budget, aren't we?" Bales: "Yes." She reiterated many times during the meeting that the budget was a moving target and numbers would be con- stantly in flux. She promised to update the board regularly as she knew more. Despite the many un- knowns, Bales was very clear with her overall message: "We can't keep deficit spend- ing at a rate of $4 million a See Deficit, page 4A County's budget could force bureau closure Dan McDonald Staff Writer dmcdnald@plumasnews'cm The county's Board of Supervisors adopted a recom- mended budget last week that will allow Plumas County to pay its bills after July 1. But that budget could leave employees at the county visi- tors bureau without a job this week. By a 4-1 vote, the super- visors approved the pre- liminary figures presented by County Administrative Holiday deadlines All Feather Publishing offices will be closed Mon- day, July 4, in observance of the holiday. This will affect the deadlines for the July 6 newspaper. Deadlines for the Wednesday, July 6, Plumas- Westwood editions: All Display Advertising and Legal (Public) Notices for the classified and all other newspaper sections is due by Wednesday, June 29, at noon. News releases -- including letters to the editor, births, obituaries and Cards of thanks --are due by Thurs- day, June 30, at noon. Classified reader ads are due Friday, July 1, at 9 a.m. To subscribe to the Record, call 530-283-0800 Officer Jack Ingstad. Ingstad's fiscal 2011-12 budget, which most certainly will look different when it is finalized before Oct. 2, provides no funds for non-,: county organizations includ- ing the chambers of com- merce, tourism and economic development. Ingstad emphasized June 14 that people shouldn't panic before he unveiled the proposed budget. But after the supervisors approved that budget during their June 21 meeting, it generated some immediate shockwaves. "Unless some relief is iden- tified, the Plumas County Visitors Bureau staff will be laid off July 1," said the bureau's director Suzi Brakken, who would be "Tourism is an economic engine for this county. It's the county's second-largest industry." Suzi Brakken Director, Plumas County Visitors Bureau losing her job. Brakken said she plans to submit an agenda request for the Board of Supervisors' July 5 meeting to see if the board would consider tempo- rary funding until a final budget is adopted. Brakken added that closing the visitors bureau during the peak tourism season could-ultimately cost the county more in lost visitor revenue than it would be saving in expenses. ',Tourism is an economic engine for this county," Brakken said. "It's the county's second-largest industry. "Ending county support for the visitors bureau, the chamber and Plumas Arts may help the county budget in the short run," she said. "But interrupting mar- keting and service will soon hurt the whole county, including government em- ployees and tourism busi- nesses." County leaders are waiting for solid numbers before they can realistically finalize a new budget. The county ill not have accurate fund:Jalance num- bers until the, fiscal2010-11 books are closed at the end of August. The recommended budget also will be influenced by the state budget, which has yet to be finalized. ' The preliminary county budget included cuts to many departments, including a 10-percent pay cut for most county employees. The cut would be realized by reduc- ing the current 40-hour week to 36 hours. Ingstad estimated that having most general-fund employees work four nine- hour days with Fridays off would save about $400,000 per year. The county would have to negotiate with the unions to institute some of the budget cuts. Ingstad said changing insurance companies and having employees pay some or all of the county's 7- to 9-percent share of their pension could save the county more than $800,000: The supervirs deliberated for more than an hour about agonizing choices they are going to be making in the weeks to come. Ingstad said the budget committee -- headed by supervisors Lori Simpson See Budget, page 4A Overruns reveal failures to communicate Mona Hill Staff Writer Faced with more than $800,000 in overruns and accounting errors on the learning resource center con- struction project, Feather River College trustees voted June 23 to use a special reserve fund to pay for the majority of the unanticipated costs. The move reduces the spe- cial fund, carefully built over many years using Secure Rural Schools money, by nearly half. The $800,000 figure may go up, pending negotia- tions with contractors and whether or not the college can shift a deferred mainte- nance block grant to the project. "Ultimately, my name is all over the project," said Facilities Director Nick Boyd, "so I guess it's on me." Trustee John Sheehan also shouldered some of the blame. "The board is responsible for the appropriate use of funds ... I don't think we did that in this case." It took trustees one regular meeting June 16 and two special meetings June 20 and 23 to grasp the situation and chart a course of action. Over that time, the estimate of the overruns fluctuated from a low of $700,000 to a high of nearly $1 million. What went wrong Board president Bill Elliott and trustee John Schramel, in separate telephone conver- sations, cited several factors that contributed to the delay in recognizing the extent of construction overruns. The initial, inaccurate soils analysis probably accounts for the largest portion of the total. In addition to the cost of a second report and foundation modifications, the problem delayed construc- tion until corrected, Because the college acted as its own general contractor, that delay left the college open to claims from the contractors who followed, notably $45,000 dueto Randy Hill Construction Inc, (RHCI). Although the college thought it would save money by acting as its own general contractor, the move left it responsible for other costs. While Counterpoint Con- struction Services acted as a project manager, it was in the capacity of vetting contractor invoices, change orders and approvals. Boyd oversaw the construction project's operations and interacted with the various contractors. He also coordinated process- ing of invoices, change or- ders and approvals through the college. Trustees received periodic updates, usually from Boyd, throughout the project but did not receive formal finan- cial reports. There was no separate project accounting beyond Boyd's updates. In addition, the college switched account- ing systems during the course of construction. The state reimbursed the college in arrears. FRC would submit its paid invoices to the state and request re- imbursement. As the college received reimbursement, it would post the funds received. A $313,515 accounting error, now being called "unreimbursed expenses," occurred when previously paid expenses were not de- ducted from the reimburse- ment, giving the impression there was a larger fund bal- ance than there actually was. In reality, the "unreim- bursed expenses" were. reim- bursed and contribute to the $820,798 in project overruns. Delay in discovering the overruns did not allow trustees an opportunity to find savings elsewhere in the project. In a telephone conversa- tion, Boyd said the college actively managed the project, eliminating several non- essential building features, including rock facings, side- walk snowmelt features and new anti-theft library equipment. See Overruns, page 5A