David Liebler is the Director of Public Affairs and Member Services for the California State Association of Counties. For more, visit The County Voice.

If our counties have been wondering what their portion of the Williamson Act subvention allocation is going to be for 2009-10, their wait is over.  Sent yesterday by the State Controller’s Office, the check’s are in the mail.

But don’t hold your breath; 22 counties and three cities are receiving checks for under $10.00, six of these are actually getting a check for under $1.00. And shockingly, four are receiving checks for under 10 cents!  Orange County and the City of Camarillo are both getting checks for one penny. I kid you not: one penny.

I guess that’s what happens when you turn a valuable $38 million program that protects more than 16.5 million acres of farmland and open space into a $1,000 program.  Back in April, CSAC blogged about the value of the Williamson Act, which is considered the single most-effective agricultural land preservation program in California.

We now know the  figures on what the counties are receiving. But what did the state spend to cut those checks? What did it cost in staff time, printing and postage? Did the state spend more than $1,000 to send out the $1,000 in checks to the 47 public agencies?  Our guess is that they did. Is this good, efficient government? We will let you decide.

In case you were wondering, the big winner in all this is Fresno County with their $150.45 check. But then again, Fresno does have more than 1.5 million acres enrolled in the Williamson Act program. What’s that break down per acre? We will let you do the math. Our minds can’t get passed the one-cent allocations.

For more, visit The County Voice, a place where CSAC, county officials and stakeholders can voice their thoughts on governance and issues that impact California’s 58 counties.