Board of Supervisors Watch

Stanislaus County supervisors considered these items at their meeting Tuesday morning:

Heard an update on a five-county partnership that regulates ambulance services. Fifteen months ago, supervisors voted to quit the Mountain-Valley Emergency Medical Services Agency in 18 months if they couldn’t find a better option; dissatisfied officials talked about paying far more than four smaller counties but enjoying no more control. Steve Andriese, the agency’s former executive director, left in December and county administrators are helping recruit a replacement. The county’s Health Services Agency this week suggested monitoring “whether necessary improvements occur through the leadership change.” Also, going it alone would be costly, a report says.

Unanimously adopted plans to upgrade a water system at Frank Raines Regional Park for about $610,000. Bacterial contamination prompted supervisors to initiate the project five years ago; failing to get off the dime Tuesday could have brought a $156,200 state fine, plus $200 per day until repairs are done.

More than doubled money set aside to defend state enforcement of contaminated groundwater under the defunct Geer Road Landfill, next to the Tuolumne River east of Modesto. Officials previously reserved $100,000 for a specialist attorney, but state water authorities want more action to define and corral a tainted underground plume.

Unanimously approved paying two law firms a combined $1.25 million per year to represent poor defendants when the public defender’s office has conflicts of interest. That’s a 10 percent drop from what Perry & Associates and Grisez, Orenstein & Hertle were paid in the last contract. “We’re not only cutting services, we’re also looking hard at vendors,” said Supervisor Terry Withrow.

Accepted a $170,000 state grant for substance abuse treatment associated with drug court.

— By Garth Stapley