Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors Watch (12/22/09)

The Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors meets at 9 a.m. today in the basement chamber at Tenth Street Place, 1010 10th St., Modesto. The board is scheduled to:

Approve renovating the county's public health lab to enable testing for the H1N1 virus and other diseases

Expand an agreement with Kelly Services for subsidized jobs for welfare recipients. Federal stimulus money would help the county's welfare-to-work program; its enrollment has increased 32 percent in two years.

Advertise for another bomb squad robot for the Sheriff's Department. Its first robot is hard to lift and too large to move down airplane or bus aisles. The department plans to use $100,000 from a 2008 homeland security grant.

Accept 13 new Williamson Act contracts, despite the state's unwillingness to reimburse counties for providing tax breaks to farmers. The state's action is costing the county $1.4 million this year, and new contracts protecting 570 acres from development would dig the hole deeper by $17,800.

Pay Doctors Medical Center in Modesto more money for indigent psychiatric patients. The county would reimburse DMC $974 per day, up from $799 under the current agreement.

Hear a report on public facilities fees charged to developers. The county collected $4.4 million for building permits in the fiscal year that ended July 1.

Consider charging $66 per parking space per month for about 100 open spots in the county's 12th Street garage. Several entities are interested in parking leases, including the Stanislaus County Office of Education. Modesto charges the same fee for spots in its garages on Ninth, 10th and 11th streets.

Apply for $671,000 in federal stimulus money through a state energy efficiency grant. Of the total, $575,000 would convert heating at Juvenile Hall from electric to gas, saving about $45,000 per year. The rest would replace 200 150-watt street lamps with 70-watt induction lights, which use half the energy and last twice as long while putting out about the same amount of light, saving some $9,600 per year.

Award a one-year exclusive negotiating period to Sol Orchard, which wants to build a solar energy farm at the former Geer Road landfill. Sol's response beat those submitted by two other companies, including JKB Energy, which recently won a one-year negotiating period for a much larger solar farm next to the county's Fink Road landfill near Crows Landing. Sol has a pending partnership with Solar Power Partners, the United States' third-largest solar energy developer. Preliminary plans include a mounting system that doesn't penetrate soil. If approved, Sol would have a year to do environmental studies, make a power-selling deal and negotiate a lease with the county.

-- Garth Stapley