Board of Supervisors approves web portal and grant program

By Mike Roberts, Mountain Democrat, April 1, 2013
From page A1 | 19 Comments

The Transient Occupancy Tax will fund a new website promoting the county, an aggressive  grant acquisition program and mini-grants to “fabric-of-the-community” groups.

The Board of Supervisors also tacked an additional year onto six current arts and tourism contracts funded by the 10 percent add-on to room rates in El Dorado County.

The decisions were based on recommendations from the board’s Economic Development Advisory Committee, which got a name changed during the same March 25 workshop.

EDAC is now officially CEDAC. Adding “community” to the commission’s name reflects an organic extension of county-level regulatory reform and General Plan implementation efforts to the local level, encouraging individual communities to organizing to define themselves and have a voice in policy making at the county level.

The name change also recognizes that a rich community life is good for local economies, and that proud, multi-faceted communities, large or small, that come together with a vision improve the lives of those who live there.

The original economic development mission has also expanded laterally at the county level. In January and March board workshops, CEDAC leaders Jim Brunello and Mike Ranalli badgered the supervisors to fund a grant development program which if successful, could save millions in general fund expenditures.

All that and more was on the table in a highly anticipated March 25 board workshop. That afternoon the supervisors approved the newly rechristened commission’s first round of community development recommendations, agreeing to loosen the Transient Occupancy Tax purse strings to fund:

• $100,000 for a county-wide web portal
• $100,000 for a grant development program
• $40,000  for community development mini-grants
• $110,000 for a one-year extension of grants to six arts and tourism organizations.

But before they could get to the visionary stuff, the supervisors needed an update from the sausage factory floor.

The workshop led off with presentations from DOT Engineer Claudia Wade on the soon-to-be-launched Traffic Demand Model, and Senior Planner Shawna Purvines on the 2013 Housing Element Update, a draft of which is on its way to the state for review.

Both are tentacles of the sprawling Land Use Policy Programmatic Update, which is currently under environmental review. Public hearings on the draft EIR should begin in early summer.

Working together

The interrelated initiatives required the consolidation of the county’s three land-use departments: Development Services, DOT and Environmental Management. In December they became the Community Development Agency, headed by Chief Administrative Officer Terri Daly and her right hand woman, Assistant CAO Kim Kerr.

The CAO’s office worked closely with CEDAC members to develop a policy formation structure that allows the community to participate in the new agency’s policy formation process, dubbed, “Future Planning.”

Councils of concerned residents are currently forming in communities across the county. They will be recognized by the Board of Supervisors and encouraged to develop priorities and criterion for future land use in their communities. County-wide community design standards will be applied in communities that choose not to participate.

“This board and its successors can direct spending on roads and infrastructure in a way that supports the peoples’ vision of their communities,” said Brunello. “That is not how it was being done before. This is a cultural change.”

Councils have already formed in Camino, Placerville, Shingle Springs, Diamond Springs/El Dorado and Cool, where residents have long held a shared identity and sought greater representation in county governance.

El Dorado Hills resident Paul Raveling called the councils a good vehicle to create a more representative community voice. Others involved in the early stages of the El Dorado Hills council said they hoped to involve church and youth sports organizations that wouldn’t normally engage in land use planning or county-wide community development issues.

In January Brunello stood before the board and proposed jump-starting community development with 10 percent of the county’s Transient Occupancy Tax, approved in 2002, to support tourism and economic development.

The investment would fund a county-wide web portal, community development mini-grants to local groups, and seed money for an aggressive grant acquisition program.

The TOT fund breaks out three ways. The Treasurer Tax Collector takes 10 percent off the top. Up to half of the remainder can go into the general fund every year, with the balance awarded to arts and economic development programs in a highly competitive and ultimately political grant process.

The current six grants were set to expire this year.

Chief Budget Officer Laura Schwartz released her Mid-year Budget Status Report on Feb. 20. It projected a fund balance for fiscal year 2013-2014 and a TOT carry-over of $485,000, in addition to $1.3 million in taxes collected.

Ranalli took the TOT torch from Brunello last week and asked the board to extend the six current grants for another year, with a 15 percent increase, then reiterated Brunello’s January request.

The total “ask” was for $340,000 of the 2012-13 TOT funds. Daly backed the request, and assured the board that the funds are available.

Web portal
A new county-wide website will provide a one-stop shop that promotes the recreation opportunities, businesses and housing to visitors, prospective business owners and residents.

Ranalli talked the board through a proposed county Website that would provide “live, work and play” information for each area of the county. He demonstrated similar Websites in Seattle and San Diego.

He predicted that very little would be required of current IT staff. Very little of the content currently resides on the existing county databases. Seattle’s portal is maintained by the firm that developed the Website.

CEDAC volunteer Art Marinaccio praised the portal, and observed that much of the economic development effort is spent attracting new businesses, but “you get more bang for your buck in the existing businesses base.”

Grant development
A professional grant solicitor will find, acquire, and manage external grants to fund county and community programs.

Brunello cited neighboring agencies that fund planning activities, facilities improvements, economic development and even infrastructure improvements such as broadband Internet access with grant funding.

Culture and community development
Also known as “Tom Sawyer” grants, these internal mini-grants will be awarded by the board to local organizations actively involved in volunteer community development projects.

Local organizations, perhaps hoping for a slice of the pie, lined up in support of the idea in January.

The lone opposition was provided by Ron Wolsfeld of the Rural Communities Recovery Collaboration, who worried that the grants would be divisive.

“If a community needs a couple thousand dollars to get something done they generally come together and if it’s important, they get it done on their own,” he said.

Long-term goals
Area developers have long held that high Traffic Impact Mitigation Fees inflate the price of new homes and make moderate-priced housing nearly impossible to build profitably. Worse still, high TIM fees scare off job-creating businesses, they say.

LUPPU’s revised land use forecasts and the new traffic demand model provide the necessary tools for the board to evaluate the county’s TIM fee structure.

“The cost of not implementing our general plan has been crushing,” said Ranalli. “We’ve been hemorrhaging sales tax and it’s also cost us so many jobs.”

The General Plan set a goal of 42,202 jobs by 2025. At the current rate, “We’re headed toward 18,000 … and going in the wrong direction,” he said.

Creating jobs will require more than lowering TIM fees and appealing to outside businesses to relocate, he said. The county’s arts, agriculture and history make El Dorado County attractive to prospective job creators, “and it’s just the right thing to do,” he said.

LUPPU’s zoning ordinance update supports “the agricultural renaissance currently under way in El Dorado County,” and sets the stage for expanding agricultural districts, ranch marketing, agriculture support services and “ranch stays,” which allow guests to lodge and dine at working ranches, said Ranalli.

It also supports home occupation, which keeps jobs and sales tax in the county, he said.

The county’s rural charm will also attract the owners of larger businesses looking to relocate for quality-of-life reasons, “but they need basic business services, including reliable internet access,” he said.

District III Supervisor Brian Veerkamp came out early in favor of CEDAC’s recommendations, reminding his fellow board members that they’d recently heard the Tahoe Chamber boast their successes with grant funding.

In discussions preceding public comment the three other supervisors present — District 5 Supervisor Norma Santiago had to leave before the workshop began — were far less enthusiastic. District 1 Supervisor Ron Mikulaco worried that other groups, specifically the veterans, were also interested in the TOT funds.

Ranalli explained that the grant program creates an open, rather than closed system. “This is not ‘rob Peter to pay Paul,’” he said. “These grants will take pressure off the general fund.”

District II Supervisor Ray Nutting said he hoped the CEDAC process would build community trust in the planning process. “If we can get the citizens at the parcel level involved, that’s exciting.”

Ranalli agreed, and suggested “We can no longer wait until some flashpoint project or an effort the scale of LUPPU comes along to begin the dialogue with our communities.”

The councils are outreach tools, he added. “We’re not telling them how to organize or what outcome we expect. We’re just helping them come together and get organized.”

Tea Party Patriot Steve Ferry and high-profile Democrat Jamie Beutler both encouraged the board to enact CEDAC’s recommendations.

“Its time for us to take off our hats and be better together,” said Ferry.

“I’ve never seen such excitement in this county… everyone working together … from every political stripe,” said Beutler.

Veerkamp closed his comments by calling the proposal “an investment in the county, our programs and our people.”

“The General Plan speaks to promotion and enhancement in nearly every goal,” he added. “I haven’t seen a whole lot of that in the years I’ve been here.”

The TOT spending was approved on a 4-0 vote.

Mike Roberts

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Discussion | 19 comments

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  • francescaduchamp@att.netMarch 31, 2013 - 12:08 pm

    This is New Economy...sustainability...21st century agenda...socialism. I did not vote for any of these people. I do not believe in this...I am an American. I believe in the constitution of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. I do not support socialist ideas. I am an individual. Once again I am not deciding for any one but myself. I have left links for both sides...many of which are Tea Party vids --Against this idea of Agenda 21 under the name of The New Economy. Come to our meeting April 3rd Pollock Pines...6 pm. this is all over the country...states are now making laws to ban this idea. People can do "global" events and transactions without giving up our country ideas--I say "no"...if someone ever puts it on a ballot. You do not need these groups to write for grants. They have always existed. Money...follow it. This money 350,000...the senior lunch program comes out of the same pot--it has come close to being cut...people who work for this program have not had raises in years...I bet while they are looking at this web site...they will not be thinking how much they love this county. The mini grants--Harper wants a statue of a really expensive bear on highway 50...I no many that think this is the wrong time...and she should give the money back to the town for other more pressing issues...such as more people standing in bread lines or losing their jobs. this is a joke--I DID NOT VOTE FOR ANY OF THESE PEOPLE--yet the government is going to give them money...ummm remember I was told that their was no money--so how can they give any away?

  • EvelynMarch 31, 2013 - 1:07 pm

    CONFUSING -- 1) Para 19 of Mr. Daley’s report reads: “The current six grants were set to expire this year.” 2) On 2/25/2013, at the beginning of then EDAC’s presentation to the Board of Supervisors, Jim Brunello said: “Two years ago when the LUPPU process started, when we first came before the Board, we passed out grants that had been just awarded the month before to do specifically what we were about to undertake. That was the zoning update, the Targeted General Plan Amendment, the Traffic Model Update. All of this we passed out. 3) At the 3/25/2013 BOS meeting, here reported upon, I asked: a) Is there any way to learn how much money was passed out? b) Which groups received the funds? ANSWERS RECEIVED at 04:43:00 into the meeting: a) Ron Briggs: “I don’t recall putting out any money two years ago.” b) Terri Daly: “I do believe Mr Brunello was talking about money given out by the State or by the Feds or by someone else to other jurisdictions, NOT our Board giving out the money.”

  • EvelynMarch 31, 2013 - 1:15 pm

    Bad assumption! Rather, Mike Roberts' article (not Chris Daley).

  • francescaduchamp@att.netMarch 31, 2013 - 3:54 pm

    And to think...the BOS couldnt afford to carpet the little library in Pollock--so through donations by the people (without their consent)5000.00 dollars was spent on a 1242 sq ft building with no parking...and to think of all the snotty messages I received saying the general fund was empty--that there was no money. (I still have those emails) or my favorite--being called personally to be asked to quit the questioning of public donations pertaining to the library. So instead people who are not elected are just given money (lots of money) to do "as they see fit.." <--- from BOS meeting. Are they giving the mini grant of 5000.00 back to the people? (ironic that its the same amount that the carpet cost.)

  • EDC ResidentApril 01, 2013 - 6:00 am

    "name reflects an organic downward reach" What does that even mean?

  • SparkyApril 01, 2013 - 6:05 am

    When the dust settles, CEDAC gets less than last year's surplus with a third of that amount going to 6 of last year's recipients. The remainder are for 3 specific functions including the pursuit of more grant money from outside sources. The Board is responsible, but CEDAC is accountable is completing the objectives. This is an approve county commission filling a void where no county employee has direct jurisdiction. It is easy to be a skeptic of the system and live, eat, and drink conspiracy, but let's give them a year to prove the concept. Like the decision by the Board..

  • EvelynApril 01, 2013 - 6:23 am

    Sparky: Good morning! You reference "6 of last year's recipients". Who were they?

  • EvelynApril 01, 2013 - 6:31 am

    Sparky: About "last year's surplus" - WHICH "surplus", and what was the total amount of that surplus?

  • EvelynApril 01, 2013 - 6:47 am

    TRUTH -- accountability & transparency -- banishes "conspiracy" talk. Kind of like throwing a bucketful of water on the Wicked Witch.

  • EvelynApril 01, 2013 - 6:50 am

    "Conspiracies" - HERE

  • cookie65April 01, 2013 - 8:58 am

    EDC Resident, the meaning is a classification. There are those who view themselves as over and above the rest of us. They recognize our existence at their inconvenience and we are to be grateful for it. From their positions they must reach "downward" to give us the notion that we have a voice in determining what they have already decided is best for us.

  • francescaduchamp@att.netApril 01, 2013 - 9:39 am

    Sparky...Once again I have no problem with some of the ideas...I dont like the deception. These circles of people decided they were better than the whole. They have been setting reports.. applying for grants without the whole knowing. I favor the Park for kids...not just trails. I favor the baseball field--generations have been playing on it. I think any business should be allowed to come in and try to "make" it. Here in Pollock stores come and go. Telling people how to paint? Come on. Our kids have to go down the hill for many things...why? Someone once again brought up the seniors--I love our seniors. That 350,000 came from the same place that their nutrition program comes from (as well as meals on wheels) the people who do the cooking at the sites have not have a raise in several years. Many services and people have gone without--yet they give all this money to people that havent been elected? You do not need these groups to apply for grants--this Rural development design grant--by the endowment for the arts--NEA has been around for a very long time. I watched a group in this county pay someone 25,000 to write a grant for 65,000--I dont get it. There have always been grants--the visual and performing arts has always relied on this group--the NEA. With some grants --one has to put up money. Lets say you put in 7000.00 then they will match it. We just did this in Pollock--for Measure "k" It is a "matched" grant. Look and see who are in these groups--sub groups--councils...same people. In order to work with their own idea of breaking down a "silo"--they have to work with the community. The word "silo" comes from business--business can become a micro community...and soon "clicks" will form--and shut out other people. This is already happening with these groups. The BOS already knew--people in CEDAPP already knew...they are the popular "kids" and the rest as cookie said--are an inconvenience. CEDAPP is doing what it wants already...Dogwood Club has become their favorite play mate. Sparky either wake up or let people know that you knew as well. To do grants as a group is great--there is money. But for the BOS to take money away from programs to give to their friends as "seed" money--that is not right.

  • francescaduchamp@att.netApril 01, 2013 - 9:47 am

    I think I should start posting the names inside these groups--sub groups--councils...people keep bring up the GOB--I think these groups are scarier--because they are not accountable at all. what the BOS is going to go up and say--I change my mind--give us back our money? They cant even take it to court--they gave them the money. So If things dont work out after a year they wont give them more--but the first 350,000 is okay. I know a matter of trust. Grants--good stuff... measure "k" will help--just a little in the Pollock school dist. (because remember the BOS has no money to help)

  • francescaduchamp@att.netApril 01, 2013 - 10:03 am

    @EDC resisdent. In regards to your question of this "EDAC is now officially CEDAC. Adding “community” to the Economic Development Advisory Commission’s name reflects an organic downward reach from the regulatory reform and General Plan implementation efforts which will be decided on later this year, down to the community level." They are saying by adding the "word" community to their name that it proves that its all about the community and not government that is usually at the top of the decision making process. It is just words. They didnt do their homework and were using the acronym of the El Dorado Arts Council--and had to give it back. Since many of these groups were already in place BEFORE the community advisory councils have been picked. The word "community" means little to them.

  • francescaduchamp@att.netApril 01, 2013 - 10:16 am Tea Party against agenda 21 and sustainability...Mr. Ferry--im confused...this New Economy is only some in your party not agree? From this article "In Closing, Agenda21 is an octopus with millions of tentacles squeezing the very life of the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution from our God-given unalienable rights. Each tentacle or program, such as Smart Meters, Smart Growth or LEED Building Codes comes to each of our homes and reaches out through City, County, State and Federal agencies, never “needing” citizen approval or congressional oversight! A Final Quote, “Individual rights will have to take a back seat to the collective.” Harvey Ruvin, Vice Chairman, ICLEI. The Wildlands ."

  • francescaduchamp@att.netApril 01, 2013 - 10:19 am

    "of these people are what Lenin called “Useful Idiots” in they do not try to identify if actions and votes they make are within the framework of the United States or State of Texas Constitutions. For political and financial reasons (Block Grants, etc.), they sign away the freedoms that generations have died to preserve!" from the article already posted. Tea Party against sustainability. I am thinking that we are more "useful idiots" than incontinent--to these new groups.

  • francescaduchamp@att.netApril 01, 2013 - 10:21 am


  • cookie65April 01, 2013 - 2:21 pm

    Francesca, sustainability can be used to explain the demise of the union run education system in this country. As the theory goes, the educated tend to earn more and consume more, therefore more education increases the threat to sustainability. Sustainability is a multi-faceted assault on liberty and freedom. About the only thing you can credit the union run education with is the successful redistribution of trillions of dollars. Have you been following any of this? This school superintendent has been paid over $500,000 in achievement bonuses for test scores that teachers where doctoring to improve.

  • francescaduchamp@att.netApril 01, 2013 - 2:41 pm

    cookie65 yes...actually I was in the teaching profession--and it is much worse--I am a visual person and can see things faster than most--even if there is no words that come to mind. I believe in public schools--I honor home schooling...I believe in education. I believed in libraries with my soul. I am a dreamer...and I believe with my heart that people will do the right thing. Politically I have learned too many times that I shouldnt believe--because it does bring me to tears--it wares me out that a neighbor can deceive a neighbor --even when children are involved. My grandson at one point asked to be home schooled--I said no--because the social part is so important. Right now any one can take free classes on-line through apps. The Khan approach is very visual. Online global schools exist. But the down side--is that it isolates people--even using skype--one is still alone. Its missing the human touch. For a masters class I wrote a paper on both sides of the fight in the LA school system--neither side knew what I believed in...I have been trained to debate both sides of an issue with passion. I love information. But I believe in our constitution--I believe in those few that had the courage to come here. Even through my thirst for knowledge--I do not believe in socialism.