A quick look at the policy and politics that have made recent headlines in California’s rural counties. This week features the Counties of Fresno, Modoc, Placer, Plumas, Shasta and Sierra.

FRESNO: The oversight board that reviews the county’s pension fund has lowered the projected annual investment return from 7.75% to 7.25%. Given that the pension fund totals over $3.1 billion, this move is expected to cost the county an extra $30 million each year.

MODOC: There’s a “new” District Attorney in town. Jordan Funk, who served as DA for Modoc County from 2003-2007, has left private practice to resume public service with the County. According to the article, he is eager to get county operations back on track after Christopher Brooke resigned as a result of pressure from local public safety organizations. The Sheriff is reportedly eager to work with Funk as previous relations with the DA have been reported as rocky at best.

PLACER: City, county, state and federal officials recently converged in Tahoe to discuss the importance of collaboration to protect the health of the lake and its “famed clarity.” U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, California Gov. Jerry Brown, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, and former Vice President Al Gore were all in attendance. They discussed the need for collective efforts to plan for development, transportation and environmental protection standards.

PLUMAS: The Board of Supervisors is looking at an increasingly promising budget for the coming year. So much so, that they are seriously considering ending furloughs in a number of the county’s departments.

SHASTA: The City of Redding decided against levying a fee increase of $2,777 on homebuyers. The increase would have supported the city’s expansive network of parks and trails. The current development impact fee rests at almost $4,000 per home. The City Council stated that their opposition to the fee stems from a worry that it will adversely impact the young families and reduce the likelihood that they will remain in Redding.

SIERRA: Supervisors have approved the purchase of a new system that will improve communications between the Sheriff’s department and the various cities throughout the mountainous and sparsely-populated county. The purchase was made possible by a $6 million dollar donation by an anonymous individual.

OTHER: Columnist Dick Spotswood points out a very real problem for small counties: conflicts of interest occur frequently and unintentionally for local elected officials. The remainder of his column is dedicated to developments in the North Coast political scene.