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Fees in the hooouse
Builders will soon be paying more for their impacts on the Chico school system.

The Chico Unified School District Board of Trustees voted unanimously on April 20 to raise developer fees from $2.14 to $2.24 per square foot, the maximum allowed by the Legislature.

The decision was based on a Developer Fee Justification Study. Lori Rainerie, president of Government Financial Strategies, said new development actually impacts the CUSD so much that it could legitimately charge $2.74 per square foot, if allowed.

Jason Bougie, representing the North Valley chapter of the Building Industry Association, said that he doesn’t agree with the study’s formula, which presumes that Chico could see 10,000 new homes in the next decade. Even so, he said, “there’s too much of a gap there to really buy that [the impact is less than the fee cap].”

Rainerie said the figure was based on how many homes the city would allow to be built, not actual construction data.

The fees were last raised in June 2002. They apply only to residential development, a political decision Rainerie said is unusual in California.

Board President Steve O’Bryan, who got little support for the same idea two years ago, again suggested that the district reconsider its position against charging for commercial development. The cash-strapped CUSD could raise 36 cents per square foot if it did so.

Sime says it’s time
Just a couple of weeks after seeing Enloe Medical Center through a union vote, Pam Sime is stepping down as vice president of human resources.

She is returning whence she came: the consulting world.

Sime, whom some employees saw as an anti-union hardliner, had worked at Enloe for four years, including her time as a consultant. In February, an administrative law judge for the National Labor Relations Board found that Enloe had violated federal labor law after Sime refused to bargain the effects of a new mandatory on-call policy with the nurses’ union. (At the same time, Enloe was found to have illegally forbidden employees from discussing working conditions.) In a press release, hospital administrators praised Sime for her “key leadership role” in strategy and labor relations, along with various improvements to personnel services.

Sime, who couldn’t be reached for comment, stated in the press release that it was a “privilege” to work at Enloe.

Her last day at work will be May 19.

Hey, we didn’t want him
To the disappointment of the agricultural community, the much-hated glassy winged sharpshooter (photo) is back.

The California Department of Food and Agriculture confirmed the April 8 discovery of two adult male sharpshooters in Chico. A week later, an egg mass was discovered.

While the sharpshooters were discovered in redbud plants, the insect is known to infest grapevines and almond trees, infecting them with Pierce’s disease. The bacterium can be fatal to the plants and has devastated crops in counties south of here.

As a result, Butte County Agricultural Commissioner Richard Price on April 26 authorized trapping and the application of pesticides to 10 commercial properties and about 15 acres along Highway 99.

“This is just one localized find,” Price said. “I’m fairly confident [the pests won’t proliferate], but we’ll remain vigilant.”