Placeholder Image photo credit: Marc Albert/KRCB
Sonoma County Administration Building



Sonoma County elected officials came close to finishing a new budget Tuesday, with a final vote set for Friday. Supervisors spent hours poring over priorities, initiatives and wish lists as competing needs collide with limited resources and the winding down of COVID money and settlement funds from both PG&E and painkiller manufacturers.

The overall complexities, did spur some discord. 

"The reason I'm slow-walking into this [is] because, my goal right now is not to spend an hour going through each and every one of these," said Supervisor James Gore. 

Officials also asked questions on whether and how much money is squirrelled away in special funds.

"There was a lot of different moneys that were allocated into funds that were not available to the board come budget season, and some of them were even allocations that the department heads didn't know about." 

Landscape and lighting districts, housing funds, refuse and landfill set asides were all mentioned.

Several hours into deliberations, once some clarity emerged on actual figures, the hearings nearly came to a quick resolution...

"I don't know about start, I want to finish deliberations this afternoon, let's go, I can make a motion right now." "We're all on the same page"..."So we're going to take a break?" ..."I have a lot of pages"..."So, to the chair, <LAUGHTER> there are a couple more slides to this presentation...." "Uh-oh," <laughter> "Oh no!" "Peter, carry on." 

Supervisor David Rabbitt urged colleagues to direct some money to a need that will gradually consume more of the budget, if left unaddressed.

"The pension unfunded liability paydown, even though it's not that exciting, I think has proven itself, in this county, and I know you know this from SCERA, to be a very prudent thing to do."

The same could be said about the county's deteriorating roadways. Reconstruction costs much more than maintenance and repairs, even if fairly extensive. The supervisors discussed increasing funding for road maintenance along with sidewalks and bicycle routes. Officials says county roads would need widening to accommodate bicycle infrastructure, a potentially expensive proposition. 

A mixed-use affordable housing complex, set to include a business incubator, county library and community center in the Roseland district of Santa Rosa also came up, with supervisors pledging their financial support. But they noted that even with a full commitment from the county, it can't be completed without more money from the City of Santa Rosa. The formerly unincorporated area was fairly recently annexed into Santa Rosa. The proposed project, Casa Roseland, was recently renamed Tierra de Rosas.

The county board of supervisors is set to finalize the budget and approve it Friday. That meeting is set to begin at 9 am.


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