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Board discusses opening chambers

A variety of masks on a white countertop.
Masks have become a familiar sight.

March 2, 2022 — With local mask mandates set to expire by March fifteenth, the Board of Supervisors is preparing to hear an agenda item about opening meetings to the public.

And the board took the first step in diversifying its retirement investments, by agreeing to work up a resolution to start investing some of the county’s five million dollar pension fund with Public Agency Retirement Services, a multiple employer trust that supervisors believe will give them more flexibility than the funds that are in the Mendocino County Employees Retirement Association, or MCERA, which includes retired employees of the court and cemetery districts as well as the county.

The board also voted to increase County Counsel Christian Curtis’ compensation and benefits by an estimated 32%, to $327,000 per year and promote him from interim to serving County Counsel. He has been in the interim role since Katharine Elliott’s departure in 2019.

A newly created grant-writing division will likely play a large part in a program to secure funding to build housing in communities that want it, especially workforce housing. Supervisors agreed with Planning and Building staff, who asserted that, even more than general plan amendments, the county needs to build out infrastructure for multiple users, especially for water and sewer, if it hopes to accommodate growing housing needs.

The Board voted to adopt a resolution recommending social distancing for public meetings, which means zoom, but only after agreeing to revisit the matter with a presentation by public health officer Dr. Andy Coren at a meeting in two weeks. Supervisor John Haschak broached the issue, saying, “It’s time to open the chambers.”

The item will be on the agenda on March 15.

Supervisors Dan Gjerde and John Haschak agreed to serve on an ad hoc committee to work on the details of the investment with PARS, or Public Agency Retirement Services. Gjerde believes that the new service will give the county more control and more benefits from its pension fund than it now enjoys with MCERA, which includes other organizations.