Fiscal Transparency

Fiscal Transparency

Fiscal Transparency Times Publishing Group Inc tpgonlinedaily.comBy Bruce McPherson

Fiscal Transparency Times Publishing Group Inc tpgonlinedaily.comStarting July 1, Santa Cruz County will enter a new fiscal year with a heightened sense of sophistication and transparency about our work on behalf of the public, and I’d like you to know how District 5 will benefit from our comprehensive planning initiatives.

The County produced its inaugural two-year budget this year, with the Board of Supervisors approving the 2019-2020 budget cycle on June 25.

On the same day, the Board approved a two-year Operational Plan designed to chart our course for achieving 178 objectives informed by our Strategic Plan passed a year ago. Taken together, the budget and these plans paint a detailed picture of our future work.

In addition to all the public safety, health, parks, public works and other basic services, the budget contains numerous items meant to address emerging needs and opportunities.

Fiscal Transparency Times Publishing Group Inc tpgonlinedaily.comMost significantly, the County approved a plan to fund $7.2 million in reimbursements and repairs on storm-damaged roads by borrowing from two pots in County reserves to be repaid through future revenues, including from the state gas tax and franchise fees.

District 5 sites targeted for repair with this funding include two spots on East Zayante Road as well as locations on Lompico Road and Glenwood Drive. We needed to create our own funding source for these fixes partly because the Federal Highway Administration, the federal agency that would ordinarily reimburse the County, recently changed its policy to require more stringent deadlines for completing such repairs.

Lawmakers in Washington are working to re-establish greater leniency – which is especially needed in a highly regulated environmental climate like California – that would restore funding for $35 million in additional repairs that we cannot afford to pay for locally.

Just to give you a sense of how critical this is, the $35 million represents half of the overall storm damage to Federal Aide routes in the whole state of California.

Also, in the budget is additional funding for two important projects in the San Lorenzo Valley: The construction of the Nature Discovery Park adjacent to the new Felton Library currently under construction, as well as renovations to the Boulder Creek Library planned for 2020.

Despite $1 million in state funding secured by Assemblymember Mark Stone, as well as nearly $800,000 combined from Measure G and a State Parks grant, there remained a $266,000 gap between the base construction bid and the budget.

I’m grateful to the Felton Library Friends and our Parks Department for working together to reduce costs and direct donor contributions to fill the shortfall so we could award the contract.

In Boulder Creek, we have the exciting opportunity to match up to $100,000 from a Monterey Peninsula Foundation grant for renovations to the library. The County has dedicated an additional $30,000 toward this effort.

The budget also includes a $1.6 million investment in a new countywide voting system that is more intuitive for voters and will make their intent more easily verifiable by the County Clerk. Residents will also benefit from an additional $20,000 for the Santa Cruz County Fire Safe Council, which provides coordination, education and projects related to fire prevention.

Now that we have completed the budget, the Board of Supervisors is in recess throughout the month of July. But that doesn’t mean our work on your behalf stops.

We will continue to partner with the Regional Transportation Commission this summer on implementation of the Highway 9 Corridor Plan, which is set to be approved by the Commission on June 27. We are also awaiting the details of a state-funded plan to secure a site in the City of Santa Cruz for a future navigation center designed to identify the most effective services and other resources for people experiencing homelessness.

Lastly, I hope to see you in Boulder Creek at the July 4th Parade and I encourage you to mark your calendars for the August 6 National Night Out block parties and other events in your community.

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As always, please contact my office at bruce.mcpherson@santacruzcounty.us or 831-454-2200 if you have questions or need assistance.

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