An additional $534,000 in Measure Z revenue has emerged for Humboldt County’s upcoming fiscal year and the Board of Supervisors made decisions on its use during public hearings on the budget.
Supervisors held two hearings on the county budget on June 20. County staff reported that a final tally of Measure Z revenue for the current fiscal year exceeds what was projected by $220,000.
Measure Z revenue for the upcoming fiscal year beginning July 1 is also expected to exceed previous estimates and an additional $184,000 is available due to savings from purchasing firefighting equipment in bulk.
All tallied, the coming year’s additional Measure Z revenue adds up to about $534,000.
Supervisors considered how to budget the $184,000 of Measure Z funding left unspent due to the fire chief’s association’s savings. Supervisor Estelle Fennell noted that the association’s request for the 2016 to 2017 fiscal year was downscaled from $2.2 million to $1.8 million.
Fennell said that the savings seen this year should be applied to the association’s request for funding in the next fiscal year.
“Even with adding $184,000 back into their total amount, they will still be short of what they budgeted for,” she continued.
Fennell acknowledged that if the association sees savings again, they might not need the additional amount. “But I would like to at least get that much back into the amount that they requested,” she said.
But other supervisors supported holding off on making a funding decision. Board Chair Mark Lovelace said a better course of action is to wait until midyear budget adjustments are made in January.
“Last year, we reduced their request by 10 percent and yet they still had savings on top of that,” he continued. “That’s why I’m comfortable with holding this until the need for it has actually been demonstrated a little bit better … it’s preserving our options and preserving the options for all of the other needs that are out there.”
Supervisors agreed to hold the $184,000 pending midyear budget adjustments. Fennell didn’t object to that but said that if the association’s needs justify it, she’d consider a midyear budget contribution beyond the carried-forward savings.
Supervisors also agreed to use the additional Measure Z revenue for Road repairs, Eel River Valley radio police communications upgrades, radar speed limit signs, an additional code enforcement position and an additional position in the Auditor-Controller’s Office to match the extra administrative work from Measure Z.
Supervisors also agreed to use the revenue to boost the county’s contingencies account to allow Americans with Disabilities Act upgrades and relocation of the county’s law library to create extra courtroom space.
The Humboldt County Fire Chiefs Association was allocated $2.3 million in the current fiscal year for self-contained breathing equipment and other gear. County Administrative Analyst Elisha Hayes said the funding allowed purchase of 228 self-contained breathing apparatuses, 17 sets of wildland fire protective gear and 220 sets of structure fire protection equipment.
She added that Measure Z revenue has boosted the Sheriff’s Office’s arrest rate. There were 890 arrests from January through May, an increase of 111 arrests from the same time period last year.
Hayes said the revenue also contributed to the prosecution of 25 jury trials by the District Attorney’s Office, including six murder trials and a sexually violent predator civil hearing.
She said 34.3 miles of roads have been improved as well.
The county’s $352 million budget is set for adoption on June 28.