Madera County Supervisors Chairman David Rogers, fellow supervisors and interim CAO Darin McCandless have so far refused to comment on the reported reinstatement of an annual, three-day, two-night county management conference typically held at The Pines Resort at Bass Lake.
A public records request showed the cost of the 2019 conference to Madera County taxpayers was well over $25,000 for hotel rooms, meals, bar food, snacks and other perks. The elected supervisors, some department heads, and select county staffers and assistants were provided lakeside rooms and spa suites. In previous years, lavish dinners hosted by county vendors and suppliers were alleged to have involved lots of alcohol.
Most staff are paid to attend, and standard mileage reimbursement is also provided.
Not all invited department heads stay over night, saying they prefer not to spend tax dollars in this fashion.
Residents are concerned that the choice of this location for this event appears to be an irresponsible misuse of taxpayer money, especially given Madera County already has multiple, large conference rooms in or near the Government Center, and also a brand new, large conference facility in the newly completed Public Health facility on Road 28. They say using these existing, close-by facilities is more efficient, and saves employee time and the expense of hotel rooms, breakfasts, dinners, mileage, etc.
The county also declined to comment on whose idea this was to reinstate the conference at the Bass Lake location again this year or if a vote was held by the board of supervisors to hold or reinstate this conference at this resort location.
No response was forthcoming on what the county policy on alcohol use at this event or other events was, or which county vendors, suppliers and developers were participating and also invited to attend, or if former, controversial CAO Eric Fleming would be attending. Or what the County of Madera current conflict of interest policy is.
Residents are calling for transparency and increased fiscal responsibility, and are claiming this conference trip is more evidence of business as usual — and another lavish, self indulgent entertainment and social event with alcohol hosted by the Madera County Board of Supervisors, along with the significant waste of tax payer money.
Residents can call 311 to leave a comment for their Madera County Supervisor.