Merced County public defender, airport lease on supervisors’ agenda

01/13/2014 11:26 PM

01/13/2014 11:27 PM

The Merced County Board of Supervisors has a full plate of agenda items to consider today, but not before discussing the future of Public Defender Eric Dumars’ career with the county.

The board will meet in closed session to consider “public employee discipline/dismissal/release” of the county’s public defender, according to the agenda. Dumars has been in the role since March 25, county documents show, and served as acting public defender since December 2011.

The public defender is appointed by the county’s chief executive officer and confirmed by the Board of Supervisors.

District 4 Supervisor Deidre Kelsey, also chairwoman of the board, declined comment on the issue, saying it’s a closed-session item. The board is required to report the outcome of the discussion today in public session, including how each member voted on the issue.

Other items for consideration include approving a 30-year lease for 18 acres at Castle Airport for an aviation project. If approved, the agreement would bring more than $2.7 million in revenue to the county over the life of its lease.

“Right now, we have a site plan done for our fuel farm and as soon as we get the approval, we can go forward with the permitting process,” said Bob Deklinski, director of airport development for Sierra Air Center Development. The company is owned by the same people who operate the Atwater-based Sierra Academy of Aeronautics flight school.

Deklinski said the owners plan to build a fuel-base operation at Castle – a one-stop shop that would provide such services as corporate hangars, a fueling station and maintenance operations. The $30 million project is funded by the EB-5 program, which allows foreign investors to put $500,000 into businesses at Castle in exchange for two-year conditional visas.

Supervisors will also look at approving a feasibility study for a portion of the county’s former hospital on East 13th Street. Kelsey said the goal is to figure out whether the vacant space can be converted to offices for the county’s mental health department to use.

The department is renting four outside office spaces to the tune of $318,631.20 per year, according to county documents. County officials said a move to the old hospital building would also make mental health services more accessible to residents.

“Mental health would be a very good use (for the building) because they’re already across the street, and it would make it easier for clients to access services,” Kelsey said.

Other items on the agenda include accepting a $220,027 grant to the Human Services Agency to improve understanding of the new health care law, nominating a new board chairman and vice chairman and approving a $5,000 donation to New Beginnings for Merced County Animals to assist with their spay and neuter program.

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

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