Colusa County Releases 2015-16 Grand Jury Report

The Colusa County Grand Jury released its 2015-2016 report on Thursday, August 4, 2016.

In the Foreperson’s Letter, Tim MacLaughlin commented that the 2015-16 Grand Jury had many goals it wanted to achieve and although a productive year, it proved to be a challenge.

“The 2015-16 Grand Jury had a tough time meeting its required 12 of 19 Jurors to form a quorum, and retaining members or even having them show up,” he stated. “By January the Grand Jury was finally able to consistently have a quorum and to engage lawfully in its voting and investigation.”

In his letter, he thanked the members of the grand jury for taking times out of their busy schedules to fulfill the task at hand.

Topics of the 2015-16 Grand Jury include Safe Haven, the City of Colusa, East Park Reservoir, and the Colusa County Jail.

Safe Haven

The Colusa County Grand Jury over the last couple of years has investigated the operations at SafeHaven to ensure the safety and concerns of citizens are met. According to the 2015-16 report, Safe Haven is a facility where individuals find an accepting, caring, non-clinical atmosphere where he or she can feel a sense of belonging. It provides a safe, non-judgmental place for people to gather and participate in some projects and programs offered by Safe Haven

and the Behavioral Health Department.

The Colusa County Grand Jury had several members tour the facility, they were greeted by the director who gave an in-depth tour and was able to answer all questions,” stated MacLaughlin in his report, “The tour consisted of

the entire building. Everything was neat and clean and well organized, whether it was the director’s office, craft room, kitchen or the private counseling room.”

MacLaughlin also commented that the Colusa County Grand Jury also spoke with the volunteers.

“They were forthcoming with information and happy to share the day to day activities that take place at Safe Haven,” he stated.

The Colusa County Grand Jury concluded their investigation of Safe Haven with no findings and recommended that the Safe Haven director and WET volunteers to continue the work that they are doing.

City of Colusa

In the 2015-16 Report, the Colusa County Grand Jury conducted interviews with the City of Colusa Council members and the upper management staff.

“These interviews were not prompted by any complaints by the citizens or employees of the city but rather just a general concern for the City of Colusa and its current health,” stated MacLaughlin in the report.

The Grand Jury reviewed the City of Colusa’s Public Safety and concluded that the Colusa Police department has nine officers, which is the most officers in recent years. However, the department is still below the recommended number of 12 officers.

The City of Colusa Fire Department has two full-time employees and a large number of volunteers that make up the department’s force.

MacLaughlin stated that the Colusa City Hall has been operating on a four-day work week for the last several years, this has worked well for the city and helped keep cost down.

In addition to public safety, the 2015-16 Grand Jury investigated the City of Colusa’s infrastructure, growth, and expansion, as well as its loss and expenses.

The report stated that in the last two years the City had had losses due to suits against the City.

“These suites have eaten up a significant amount of the City of Colusa’s budgets,” stated MacLaughlin in the report, “The major lawsuit was over the River Bend Estates, the council members wished to have an environmental study done to protect the City of Colusa and a developer fought against them. While the City has insurance to pay for the suits the city must pay for the litigation.”

One enormous expense the City has is the Police Department.

“As small as it is the Police Department takes a huge amount of money to run,” stated MacLaughlin. “Roughly 40-48% of the city’s budget goes towards the Police Department. This is mainly due to the state mandated “Pers” contribution.”

According to the report, the Grand Jury looked into other cities larger and smaller and found similar scenarios with funding Police Departments.

“Citizens may ask, why have police departments, why not let the Sheriff’s department handle all the calls? The residents would still be paying the same for extra staffing and patrolling of the Sheriffs Department,” stated MacLaughlin.

In the report, the 2015-16 Grand Jury found that the loss of the resale tax is a massive debt to the City’s budget.

“Many of the citizens shop outside of the City or for that matter the County,” said MacLaughlin, “This is a double or triple loss for the City and its citizens. First and foremost the loss of resale tax, along with the loss of gas tax, then the need for services in the term of private business declines. This equals more vacant store fronts, less property tax, fewer employed people spending even less money locally.

According to the report, all Council members are in for putting a measure on the ballot for an increase in sale tax. Although the increase will go into the general fund, they are earmarked for public safety.

In conclusion, the 2015-16 Grand Jury found that the City of Colusa’s Infrastructure would continue to fall into disrepair due to the lack of employees in the maintenance department and to the lack of funds. Also, they found that the Colusa City Council has in recent years laid a valuable foundation for growth and found its budgets well while providing basic needs to the citizens of Colusa.

“The Grand Jury could come up with many recommendations for the City. However these proposals would require implementing a new policy or the possibility of hiring more employee’s or subcontracting out work,” MacLaughlin stated.

East Park Reservoir

In the 2015-16 Grand Jury Report, it is said that in 2012 the Bureau of Reclamation began transferring ownership of East Park Reservoir and Stony Gorge Reservoir to the Orland Water Users Association of Glenn County. At which time the Orland Water Users Association entered into an agreement with Colusa County to manage the recreation and day use of East Park Reservoir.

“The Bureau of Reclamation contributes to the law enforcement, but that will soon cease,” MacLaughlin stated, “The county continues to improve East Park Reservoir but cannot show a profit in the management.”

The report found that the 2014/15 budget for East Park Reservoir was $104,000, and income from East Park matched that. The budget for 201S/16 was increased to $158,000. There are 2-3 full-time employees, 138 designated

campsites and day use area. In June of 2016, the county is expecting a grant of $1,000,000 from the State for a boat ramp, extended parking lot, garbage and toilet facilities at Rattlesnake Point area.

“The Grand Jury sees this as being a strong generator of resale tax and other sources of income for Colusa’s Cities and the County, and providing an avenue to make “Colusa” a destination,” MacLaughlin stated, “The Grand Jury urges the County to continue to improve the amenities at East Park/Stonyford Reservoir.”

The 2015-16 Grand Jury recommends that the County of Colusa continue the improvements at East Park/Stonyford reservoir and to install more campsites.

Colusa County Jail

Seven members of the Grand Jury conducted an inspection of the Colusa County Adult Facility and conducted interviews with the Sheriff, Jail Supervisor and two of the current inmates.

“The sheriff discussed the upcoming plans for the new jail that will be built behind the existing facility and connected via a secured hallway. The current facility had 96 beds and had no vacancy at the time of the inspection,” stated MacLaughlin.

The report stated that the Grand Juror tour included the intake process where inmates are brought in for fingerprints, drug testing, and medical history. The Jurors then proceeded to the housing wing of both male and female wings.

“The inmates have many services available to them while in incarcerated; a  recreation area, classroom, nurse’s stations and, a foreign language service,” MacLaughlin stated.

He also added that the Colusa County Behavior Health Department provides services for inmates for mental health needs and assessments as well as the Colusa County Office of Education supplies teachers for education.

“The grand jurors interviewed a male and female inmate. Both answered questions pertinent to the jail and treatment,” he stated. “The inmates stated that the staff at the jail treats inmates with respect, answered their question all the while maintaining a professional attitude.”

The 2015-16 Grand Jury had no recommendations.

To view the report in, visit http://www.colusa.courts.ca.gov/misc/15-16 Grand Jury Final.pdf <

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Lloyd Green Jr. is the Owner and Publisher of the Williams Pioneer Review. He is dedicated in publishing the news and informing the community of Colusa County. Lloyd has been with the publication since 2008, and purchased the business in 2010. Under his ownership the newspaper has grown significantly in subscriptions, publishes weekly, and obtained the title of Newspaper of General Circulation by the Superior Court of Colusa County in Sept. 2007. Lloyd is also the director of advertising, classified manager, legal notice clerk, and circulation manager. To contact Lloyd, email him at lloyd@colusacountynews.net or call (530) 458-4141 ext. 100.