Sean Janssen, The Union Democrat

The long-awaited update to Calaveras County's general plan land use document is likely to need some outside help, as a recommendation to hire a consulting firm at a cost of nearly $300,000 is set to go Tuesday before the Board of Supervisors.

A contract for $299,960 is proposed for services through the end of 2013 to be performed by Raney Planning and Management of Sacramento. The funding is included in this year's Planning Department budget.

The hope is that, with Raney's help, the county can finally deliver on an update that meets state legal requirements after more than six years of repeated delays and $1 million in consulting work from MintierHarnish, another Sacramento firm, that produced little toward a final draft.

The county has been handling the general plan update solely in-house for about a year but a staff report from Planning Director Rebecca Willis, one of several to hold the position since the update process began, concludes outside assistance is needed if the general plan is to be finished by December 2013.

"The Board of Supervisors directed staff to complete the General Plan Update within 12 months. To assist in that effort the services of a consultant are needed to augment staff work on general plan policies and implementation programs and to prepare the necessary environmental documentation required for the General Plan Update," Willis wrote.

Unlike MintierHarnish, Raney has established a strong track record of performing work for the county on time and within budget, including a $50,000 contract for a portion of the environmental impact review document that accompanies the general plan, Willis said.

The board already included $100,000 for the hiring of a high-level planner to the Planning Department in the budget year that concludes June 2013 to assist with the general plan update.

The board will also consider another sizable contract for consulting work, a $100,000 agreement for on-call services related to Public Works' capital improvement building projects with Veras Resources, of Murphys, which is headed by Rob Houghton, the county's former Public Works director.

In other business, the board will consider:

• Purchase of a 160-foot communications tower for the new jail and Sheriff's office building to be completed next year, using $55.757 from federal COPS grants.

• A minute order stating opposition to the state's rural fire prevention fee assessed to building owners throughout Calaveras County outside of incorporated Angels Camp

• In a 2 p.m. study session, design guidelines for historic buildings in and "gateway" commercial and mixed use areas within the Mokelumne Hill planning areas as developed by an appointed design committee for the board's review and adoption. The Planning Commission also recommends appointment of a new committee for design review that falls within the guidelines.

PUBLIC MEETING: Calaveras County Board of Supervisors, 9 a.m. regular meeting and 2 p.m. study session, Government Center, 891 Mountain Ranch Road, San Andreas.