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Supervisors Cancel Next Week’s Meeting; Table TOT-Hike Discussion

MADERA — Madera County’s Board of Supervisors held their regular meeting Tuesday — but the rapidly evolving coronavirus pandemic made the session anything but usual.

The public portion of Tuesday’s meeting was somewhat abbreviated and relatively somber in tone given the nature of the COVID-19 crisis. The first decision supervisors approved was a motion to cancel next week’s regular meeting in light of COVID-19 guidelines now being implemented by state and federal officials.

County Health Officer Dr. Simon Paul addressed the board briefly Tuesday, updating supervisors on the latest COVID-19 numbers in Madera County — still just one confirmed case and now just five individuals being monitored for the coronavirus.

Supervisors spent an extended period of time Tuesday in closed session being briefed on the latest information about the pandemic.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the only speaker during the public comment section to address the board was Madera County Agricultural Commissioner Stevie McNeill, who told supervisors she had just been briefed — together with other county ag commissioners around the state — by Karen Ross, the director of the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

“We want to assure you that Madera County can keep all the agricultural product we supply here flowing,” McNeil said. “We know we’re very important” to the country’s food supply.

Again this week, supervisors pulled an agenda item related to a potential board-sponsored ballot measure to hike the county TOT rate in order to raise potential funding for a fire reduction district in eastern Madera County.

No public explanation was provided on Tuesday for why the TOT item was pulled but a source said the County’s administrative staff continues to research potential legal liability issues related to floating a bond measure designed to benefit a specific part of the county while impacting businesses throughout the entire county.

There was good news Tuesday about the County’s ongoing tree mortality mitigation project. District 5 Supervisor Tom Wheeler reported that a total of 12,513 dead or diseased trees have now been removed as part of the County’s project designed to reduce the threat of future catastrophic wildfires.

“In times like this, it’s great to dwell on good things,” board chairman David Rogers said.

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