By: 5th District Supervisor, Debbie Arnold
Summer is here, and I have really been enjoying getting out to events that are starting to resume throughout the County. Covid restrictions are starting to lift, and though there is still guidance coming down from the state public health officials, many of us have been able to resume some of our normal activities. I know it has been a long year for many of the non-profit organizations who have had to postpone fundraising events, membership events, and even planned community projects. I hope you are all enjoying seeing friends and acquaintances you might not have seen in over a year.
The County has been busy over the past year working to provide the normal County services, as well as staffing the Emergency Operational Center and vaccine centers. As demand lessens, more County staff will be able to return to their regular workstations. The Covid regulations are changing, allowing more businesses to open to more people. As always, Covid updates for businesses can be found at the Readyslo.org website.
Summer is budget season at the County, and this has been quite the roller coaster ride. Early in the fiscal year there were many unknowns when it came to predicting and preparing a budget. Over the winter months it looked like there would have to be cuts to the County Budget, and departments were asked to list areas to cut. Then as Spring approached, the County was informed that the U.S. Department of Treasury had a document ready to release detailing the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). San Luis Obispo County will be receiving a one-time amount of approximately $55 million. This money is restricted in its use but can be used for public health needs and economic response related to Covid. It is intended to help restore government services and help with investments in water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure. The ARPA dollars will help restore money and fund needs and services that may have been cut.
San Luis Obispo County has budget priorities that it follows each year as money is allocated. Meeting legal mandates and meeting debt service are at the top of the list. Public safety and Road maintenance are long term priorities that do not change. Reducing homelessness, dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic, housing, and economic development are all short-term priorities for the 2021-22 budget year. This budget will recommend a total of $693 million dollars. This year about 34% of that will come from tax revenues, and about 43% comes from intergovernmental revenues to be used for social services, public health services, and criminal justice programs to name a few. These are restricted funds that help provide services and build infrastructure here in the County. I think it is important to note that though the County collects all property tax, some is distributed to local government agencies with 61% going to the school districts, 6% going to special districts here in the County, 10% to cities, and only 23% to County Services. With the one time use of the $55 million dollars of ARPA money, this year’s budget is looking a lot better.
Summer is also a time for all of us to remember to prepare for fire season. It has been an honor and a pleasure for me to work another year with many of our fire agencies as chair of the FireSafe Council. The local FireSafe Council has been successful in bringing funding into the county to do fire prevention work in preparation for fire season. The work includes roadside clearing in many of the most vulnerable areas of the County, as well as the clearing of dead trees, limbs, and other dry vegetation that might intensify a wildland fire.
Lastly, summer in San Luis Obispo County will once again include the Mid-State Fair. The Fair Board and staff are working hard to bring back one of this County’s signature events. I look forward to seeing many of you this summer as events resume.
It is an honor to serve as your 5th District Supervisor,
5th District Supervisor, Debbie Arnold
Debbie Arnold moved to San Luis Obispo County in 1973 to attend Cal Poly, she fell in love with both her husband, Steve, and the farming and ranching values that had been a part of the Arnold family way of life for more than 5 generations. While raising two children, she owned and operated a small business in Atascadero for more than 17 years. She then had the privilege of advocating for local families as a Legislative Aide at the County Supervisor’s office and as a San Luis Obispo District Representative for the State Senate. During these years, she worked with a broad range of community groups and interests, bringing people together to solve problems. Debbie Arnold now serves as the 5th District Supervisor for San Luis Obispo County.