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ATCAA Rejects Calaveras County’s Request To Relinquish Programs

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San Andreas, CA — Calaveras County’s efforts to transfer its utility bill assistance and energy conservation programs from the Amador Tuolumne Community Action Agency (ATCAA) over to the Calaveras Mariposa Community Action Agency (CMCAA) has taken another twist.

We reported on September 12 that the Calaveras County Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 to send a letter to ATCAA requesting the change. It came following a public falling-out in which the supervisors stated they were disappointed with the services provided by ATCAA.

Following a discussion at the ATCAA board meeting this past Friday, the agency has decided to draft a letter to Calaveras County stating that the request is being rejected. The letter also comes following discussions between ATCAA and the California Department of Community Services and Development (CSD).

ATCAA has released a statement further detailing its stance: 

“In the past several months, the Amador Tuolumne Community Action Agency (ATCAA) Board of Directors became aware of movements within Calaveras County emanating from the Calaveras Mariposa Community Action Agency (CMCAA) and Calaveras County Health and Human Services (CCHHS) to, for uninformed reasons, seize control of the Calaveras portion of funding for several utility-related programs that ATCAA has been delivering to those in need for over four decades. Among these programs are LIHEAP (Low-Income Home Energy Assistance) a related energy conservation-weatherization program, and LIHWAP (Low-Income Household Water Assistance) programs.

ATCAA has spent decades developing the infrastructure necessary to deliver these services to Amador, Tuolumne, and Calaveras County residents through state funding administered by the California Department of Community Services and Development (CSD). These funds are specifically made available to legislatively approved LIHEAP Service Providers (LSP’s) across the state. Each LSP is regularly monitored, audited and reports of their activities are publicly available. ATCAA’s service record consistently remains in good standing with the state.

After public criticisms of ATCAA, which also argued the need for Calaveras County to seize control of program funding for the county by the Calaveras County Board of Supervisors, CMCAA and CCHHS Staff based on misinformation, State officials from CSD queried ATCAA. State officials informed ATCAA that ATCAA has no legal authority to support Calaveras County’s request. ATCAA was also informed that the Service Area (Amador, Calaveras, and Tuolumne) it has been on contract to support since 1982 cannot be broken up. ATCAA officials were told that if ATCAA chooses to no longer service Calaveras, then CSD will look for qualified providers somewhere within the State to support the entire Service Area.

As the choice does not advance Calaveras County interests and ATCAA is obviously opposed to giving up the entire LIHEAP Service Area, ATCAA will state in a written letter to the Calaveras County BOS that though ATCAA is unwilling to give up its entire service area, ATCAA is offering to work collaboratively with Calaveras which could include a sub-contracted arrangement for Energy Intake/Outreach staff specifically for Calaveras residents and offers a pathway to Calaveras representation on ATCAA’s board.

The Calaveras board action requesting the transfer of services over to CMCAA was strongly supported by all five supervisors in September. Calaveras CEO Teresa Hitchcock stated at the time, “It is really just a matter of making sure Calaveras residents have the easiest and most efficient access to energy programs that the state makes available.”

ATCAA’s Executive Director, Joe Bors, argues, “It is unfortunate that the misinformed Calaveras Board of Supervisors chose to react based on assumptions and inaccurate information. Though we have no authority to support their request, we are offering to collaborate.”

Following ATCAA’s response letter, the ball appears to be back in Calaveras County’s court, and leaders could discuss the item further at a future board meeting.