Although two of its members are locked in re-election battles Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors is not only conducting a meeting on Election Day but has a full agenda.
Supervisor Dave Potter, the board chairman, and Supervisor Fernando Armenta are both facing challengers — Marc Del Piero and Tony Barrera — at the ballot box, and would probably prefer to be doing a bit of lastÐminute campaigning or perhaps even taking a bit of a break after months of politicking.
But a quirk of scheduling this month, which includes Thanksgiving, the annual California State Association of Counties conference, and other holidays such as Veterans Day, means today will be the board's only scheduled meeting until December.
And that means a busy agenda that includes a report from top county health officials on the proposed, and once-celebrated, low income health program that now appears to be in question, a budget review of last year's spending plan, and a garbage rate increase that has raised questions about fairness.
First up on Tuesday's agenda is the report from county Director of Health Ray Bullick and Natividad Medical Center Harry Weis on the Via Care program, requested by the board two weeks ago after a group of SEIU-represented long term home care workers and their supporters demanded answers about why the program had not yet been implemented.
Initially set for a March start, the temporary pilot program that was supposed to serve as a kind of precursor to national health care reform has been delayed for several months and now may not be initiated at all.
The program was designed to provide temporary, augmented health coverage for up to 1,500 low-income, childless county residents who earn up to 100 percent of the federal poverty income level.
But the report from Bullick and Weis points out they now believe the county and its hospital could end up on the hook for millions of dollars in additional, unburdened spending and lost revenue if the program goes into effect.
They point to the uncertainty of funding for the proposal, and the longÐterm impact on complex funding formulas that the county and Natividad rely on to serve the local uninsured population.
The report recommends county officials seek an agreement with federal and state health officials that guarantees the county and Natividad won't lose funding as a result of implementing the program. Otherwise, the report recommends not initiating the program at all.
Instead, the report suggests that the long term care workers seeking coverage under the program meet with Bullick and Weis to find ways their health care needs can be met at clinics run by the county and Natividad.
SEIU organizer Erik Larsen, who has helped lead groups of the workers to past board meetings to support the program, said the workers will be at Tuesday's meeting. In a letter to the board, the community advocacy organization COPA urged the board to go ahead with implementation of Via Care. It said 51 other counties in California had already done so, and argued the county could tap millions in federal funding for the effort.
Meanwhile, the board will receive a budget endÐofÐyear report for 2011Ð12 showing the county earned an operating surplus of $7.6 million, its first in five years. The report recommends spending $5 million to cover employee leave accruals and the vehicle replacement program, leaving $2.6 million. The report said the county staff projected a $65.4 million budget gap three years ago and the board began a campaign of spending cutbacks that resulted in the surplus.
In addition, the board appears likely to approve garbage rate increases of about 3.4 percent for all residential customers, and 2.82 percent for Monterey Regional Waste Management District commercial customers and 3.85 percent for Salinas Valley Solid Waste Authority commercial customers.
This is despite questions by Supervisor Lou Calcagno about the fairness of Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties delivering their garbage to local landfills at a lower rate per ton.
And the board will consider adoption of a green building ordinance designed to require all county buildings be constructed to state energy efficiency standards and provides incentives for private industry to do the same. Supervisors will also consider a proposal recommended by the Planning Commission that would eliminate the county's subdivision committees and require all projects to be reviewed at the commission level.