FAIRFIELD — Solano County supervisors are willing to spend an extra $12,600 for the work done by the 2013-14 county grand jury, even though several supervisors disagreed with some of the results.
The grand jury on July 22 made a presentation to the Board of Supervisors that highlighted several reports critical of the county. Several supervisors at the time said the grand jury didn’t have all the facts and the session ended in a somewhat tense atmosphere.
The board voted Tuesday to cover projected cost overruns by the grand jury. But first, Supervisor John Vasquez clarified his position.
“From time to time, I’ve been fairly critical of the grand jury from the dais,” Vasquez said.
But not authorizing the extra money would penalize the incoming grand jury, he said. He wants to see how the new grand jury handles itself, he said.
He called some of the 2013-14 grand jury criticisms of the county “harsh and inaccurate.”
“Having said that, the grand jury does play a role in providing some watchdog for the public,” Vasquez said.
During public comments – before supervisors took up the cost overruns – Suisun City resident George Guynn Jr. of the Central Solano Citizen-Taxpayer Group criticized supervisors for what he called their “shabby” treatment of the grand jury on July 22. The grand jury used the facts given to it by the county, he said.
“I think you shouldn’t be trying to make it sound like they’re bad people because they don’t come up with the results that you want,” Guynn said.
The Board of Supervisors on Dec. 3, 2013, increased the grand jurors’ per diem from $15 per juror per day to $20. It kept the overall grand jury budget the same at $112,981. The 2012-13 grand jury had spent $12,689 less than its budgeted amount.
At the end of the 2013-14 fiscal year on June 30, the county received additional claims from the grand jury for per diem and mileage reimbursements that would exceed the grand jury budget, a county report said.
The 2013-14 grand jury met 2,007 times, a county report said. That compares to 1,386 times for the 2012-13 grand jury.
“It’s always awkward when a department overruns their budget, whether it’s the grand jury or anyone else,” County Administrator Birgitta Corsello told the board.
The county has taken steps to help the Executive Office of the Courts and the grand jury avoid future cost overruns by better tracking their costs, Corsello said.
The 2013-14 grand jury released 16 reports, including an involved report looking at how money is spent on the homeless and one criticizing the county’s steps as it tries to install a computerized payroll system.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.