Siskiyou County District 3 Supervisor Michael Kobseff discusses first reading of county medical marijuana cultivation ordinance to be held March 10, current plans for new jail funding, a Coho supplementation project, an arbitration settlement regarding the proposed casino near Yreka, and his role as delegate to the Rural Counties Representatives of California.

District 3 supervisor Michael Kobseff believes that a primary function of the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors is to be the local agency that listens to the voices of the citizens, acting as what he termed a “firewall” between them and the larger state and federal agencies that govern and regulate many activities.

“This board is working very well together,” he said. “We all come to the table wanting to represent our constituents.”

Kobseff brings his commitment to a wider arena as the county delegate to the Rural Counties Representatives of California, a group of 34 rural counties that advocates for the interests of rural counties and their constituents.

“One of the issues that rural counties have come up against is funding for county fairs. I’m encouraged to know that the RCRC has brought that to the table effectively – it’s now in the governor’s budget,” he said.

Closer to home, the first reading of the Siskiyou County medical marijuana cultivation ordinance is scheduled for Tuesday, March 10, at 1:30 p.m. at the Miner’s Inn in Yreka.

Kobseff encourages community members interested in the issue to attend the meeting.

He sees the potential for new Siskiyou County jail funding sources beginning to resolve. “The board has been struggling to find a funding mechanism that doesn’t further distress the general fund. We’re closer to the mark and it’s beginning to look like it could be a reality,” he said.

The original bid of $34 million for construction has been reworked down to $31 million and the board continues to work with the Sheriff’s Office to work out operational budget issues.

He said the board doesn’t want to lose the $27 million the governor has awarded to the county for new jail construction. That sum is sufficient to build everything but the facility’s kitchen, so the board is looking at a $4 million loan to complete the kitchen construction as well.

“We want it done all at once,” Kobseff said.

The county prevailed in recent arbitration concerning the casino project near Yreka, he confirmed.

At issue are costs borne by the county for services such as law enforcement, the courts, road maintenance and others.

“Ordinarily when a business opens it pays property and sales taxes. Those revenues go to pay for expenses incurred by county government. But the casino is exempt from taxes. This arbitration decision will allow the county to recoup casino-related costs,” he explained.

Now a Memorandum of Understanding reflecting the decision must be crafted and signed by the parties concerned.

Another issue with which the county is involved is a Coho salmon supplementation in the Shasta River.

Kobseff said the county has been working for six years with the Yurok tribe, CalTrout, the Nature Conservancy and the California Farm Bureau to address the declining Coho population.

There are willing landowners who wish to accommodate assistance to fishery recovery within the system, he said, but they need to be assured of a “safe harbor agreement” for unintended consequences of higher Coho populations.

“For instance, right now a landowner may have no Coho on their property at all. Even though this is a supplementation project, the fish could get into places that are currently unpopulated,” Kobseff explained.

He said that would make those landowners subject to all the regulations concerning this endangered species and they could be fined, for example, if a Coho died on their property.

“Farmers like to get things done and get on about their business without having to look over their shoulders,” he said. “They’re trying to do the right thing and we want to honor that.”

Kobseff said finding a way to protect landowners from potential future litigation has been a difficult and protracted process largely due to the required permitting processes of state and federal agencies.