The Stanislaus County civil grand jury, a group of appointed citizens, investigates complaints from citizens about local government and initiates its own investigations. The resulting recommendations are nonbinding on the local officials, but they require a formal response.
Its reports are due by the end of June but can be released earlier. The 2007-08 grand jury released three reports Monday. In addition to the animal shelter report, the grand jury:
The district provides emergency response services to a 200-square-mile area that includes Riverbank, Empire, Waterford and La Grange. The assessment, which raises more than $4.4 million a year, costs homeowners in the district $213 a year.
The conclusion is that the district is using the money properly, and the grand jury "commends the Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Suppression District for its diligence in the stewardship of the taxpayers' funds from this ballot measure."
The district will need more revenue in the future, according to the report, and it recommends that the district consider another assessment ballot measure.
The report also recommends that the district hire a professional labor negotiator to free the fire chief from that function.
The grand jury concluded that state and federal agencies are responsible for those problems, rather than the county.