Merced County Supervisors to consider permanent fireworks ordinance

rgiwargis@mercedsunstar.comMay 4, 2014 

— The Merced County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday will take the first steps in adopting a permanent countywide fireworks ordinance.

In June, county supervisors approved temporary fireworks stands in the unincorporated parts of Merced County. The temporary ordinance allowed the sale and use of Safe and Sane fireworks after nonprofit organizations paid certain fees and passed a site inspection.

Tuesday’s action would take the first steps to making the fireworks ordinance permanent, but it would still require a second reading before adoption.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and state fire marshal would be responsible for issuing permits and approving booth locations. Although there’s no limit on the number of stands, the ordinance would allow the Fire Department to fine non-approved booths.

County supervisors will also hear from Dr. Martha Conklin of UC Merced, who will speak about long-term solutions to California’s drought. The 2013-14 rainfall season is shaping up to be the driest in 434 years, based on tree ring data, according to University of California at Berkeley.

The board is also set to adopt an increase to the employer contribution rate to the county’s retirement plan. The employer rate will go from 44 percent to 47.64 percent because of changes in demographic and economic predictions.

An “experience study” conducted every three years looks at predictions such as wage growth, the number of county retirements or terminations, inflation rates, cost of living and mortality rates.

A 5.9 percent increase to the county’s employer contribution rate passed on a majority vote by the Merced County Employees’ Retirement Association last month. The increase means Merced County has to cough up more than $3 million to fund its retirement system over the next two years.

The Board of Supervisors will meet at 10 a.m. Tuesday in its chamber on the third floor of the Merced County Administration Building, 2222 M St.

Sun-Star staff writer Ramona Giwargis can be reached at (209) 385-2477 or rgiwargis@mercedsunstar.com.

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