After 36 years with the county, Kings County Administrative Officer Larry Spikes has told the Board of Supervisors July 6 that he would retire by year's end. Spikes has been CAO with the county for 24 years.

Spikes in a letter told the board and his staff that he worked to “think outside the box” to foster innovation and “good relationships” including with labor unions, the California Association of Counties as well as cities and special districts in the county.

The notice gives the supervisors time to plan a transition to fill the top position.

Chair of the Board of Supervisors Craig Pedersen said that filling the job will be hard to do. “Larry is just impossible to replace.” He adds that Spikes is the longest serving CAO in the state.

“Larry has the institutional knowledge and personal relationships with top officials across the state” and has helped the residents of Kings County avoid a number of disasters including “massive cuts in services to the indigent population.”

The state Association of Counties has honored Spikes for his leadership during one of these crisis periods, says Pedersen, when the county was at risk of suffering a $3 million hit in funding, that because of his intervention - he was able to avoid.

“His knowledge helped prevent those cuts.”

June existing home sales and median prices jump

Sales of existing homes in both California and Kings County rose in June and the median price was higher as well says the state’s Realtors.

Statewide, the median price rose to $550,150, up nearly 1 percent from May and 7 percent from June 2016. Sales were up 3.3 percent from May and up 2.4 percent from June 2016.

In Kings County, the median home price increased from $207,000 in June 2016 to $230,000 - up 9 percent. Sales were robust as well - up 12.5 percent from May and 25.6 percent higher than June 2016.

Ag groups, some in GOP support extension of Cap and Trade

To the surprise of some, the state’s top ag and business groups as well as seven members of the GOP, supported the extension of Cap and Trade legislation another 10 years in Sacramento this week.

Business and ag groups had been opponents of last year’s AB32 that they argued hurt economy including raising energy and gasoline costs.

But this year Gov Brown’s push to extend provisions has now been accepted by major farm groups and some conservative members of the legislature. They point to some moderating provisions, some “balance” under AB 398 that passed both houses in recent days.

Brown needed two-thirds support to pass these new taxes that will force businesses to pay for carbon-emission permits and set limits on pollutants. It offers continued assistance to install improved technology aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

A last minute compromise led to the support of the state’s top ag groups. Some 22 farm groups signed a July 17 letter of support led by the California Farm Bureau and Western Growers.

More surprises were in store as conservative GOP assemblyman Devon Mathis of Visalia defied critics in supporting the bill, saying he prayed with his pastor as he agonized over how to vote.

Mathis spoke at a hearing noting that while “cap and trade sucks,” it was “reality” and better than the alternative, direct regulation. He added that the new bill would give his neighbors and friends in the agriculture industry some measure of confidence.

He pushed back on critics of his approach.

“Our job is to have the guts to stare them in the eye and say you know what, my job is to have the back of my friend, my neighbor, the guys I go to church with. And all the politics and all the phone calls and all the BS about if you do this, this and that garbage…My heart tells me this is the right thing to do”

Not supporting the bill was Assembly member Andy Vidak R-Hanford, who said that California produces just 1 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions on earth, and that efforts to reduce climate change within the state’s borders “would have absolutely no effect on the world climate.”

Farm groups in their support letter said AB 398 finds balance “by creating a market-based mechanism that allows food processors regulated under SB 32 to meet their compliance obligations for reducing GHGs in a cost effective manner."

The pointed to the fact that the bill:

  • Maintains current industry assistance levels that help food processors affordably comply with California’s greenhouse gas reduction mandate;
  • Develops a mechanism to establish a price ceiling to contain the cost of the sale of allowances purchased by food processors to meet their compliance obligations and limit the increased cost of the Cap and Trade Program to the agricultural industry and consumers;
  • Develop a Compliance Offset Protocol Task Force to create new offset opportunities in California, including in the agricultural industry;
  • Improve accountability of the California Air Resources Board by mandating additional oversight including an annual economic impact report by the Legislative Analyst’s Office;
  • Prioritizing spending of money collected through the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund by creating a specific order of projects to prioritize, starting with reducing air pollutants from stationary and mobile sources, sustainable agriculture and short lived climate pollutants.

"AB 398 also suspends the State Responsibility Area (SRA) fee as of July 1, 2017, until January 1, 2031. Since July 1, 2014, the SRA fee has been levied at the rate of approximately $150 per habitable structure unless their property is already covered by a local fire department, in which case the fee is $117 per habitable structure. This fee has been disproportionately placed on rural areas of the state and the suspension will greatly benefit rural residents of the state.

"Further, AB 398 extends and expands the Manufacturing Sales and Use Tax Exemption that includes an exemption for research and development (R&D) equipment purchases from 2022 to 2030 benefiting food processing facilities.”

Is it hot enough?

Hanford’s average temps in July so far are 84.4F. That is 5.5F higher than average says the NWS. Forecasters say there should be a hot spell coming back the last 10 days of this month with highs around 104-105F.

Hanford Airport gets FAA Grant

Hanford Municipal Airport has been awarded at $250,000 FAA grant to install a Runway Vertical/Visual Guidance System and Weather Reporting Equipment.

John Lindt is an independent business reporter. He can be reached at sierra2thesea@gmail.com

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