Merced County?s homeless population grew by 18% last year alone and the calls I receive from concerned citizens grows each week. State funding for temporary shelters and housing for this particular population is being eliminated.? Instead, the State is looking for long term housing first for these individuals and then provide substance abuse, medical and other related services.? For Merced County, the State is providing $5 million dollars towards this effort.? That money is designated for facilities, not on-going operations.? It is expected to cost almost $1 million dollars additionally to operate these facilities annually.? Our staff was tasked to explore other regions and find a solution that would work here ? and they did just that.? Staff visited Orange County and their model for a Navigation Center.? Navigation Centers are low-barrier temporary housing facilities that have no sobriety requirements. Case managers connect the homeless with permanent housing, income, public benefits and health services.? By using Orange County?s design and adapting it to meet are locations, this project will move ahead in months instead of years, helping people that desperately need it, moving individuals out of business areas and saving our taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The Board of Supervisors approved $72 million budget for the Merced County Sheriff?s Office. This amount includes operations, corrections and juvenile hall related services. The budget request has enabled our Sheriff, Vern Warnke, to accomplish a number of things.? First, our Sheriff?s department is the only one in the state that is fully staffed and has a waiting list. Second, the Sheriff?s culture and structure has enabled more officers to be out in our communities, being visible and as the Sheriff Warnke says, ?Getting the bad guys off our streets.? And finally, to get the equipment the men and women serving our county need.
When I first was joined the Board of Supervisors, it amazed me how much money the County spends on process.? Every time an item comes before the Board, it is estimated that it takes $1,000 of staff time. With an annual budget of almost ($760 Million), eighty percent of those items are contracts that under $25,000. As part of my Get Stuff Done (GSD) initiative, we explored operational efficiencies that would ensure checks and balances as well as streamline our processes.? By increasing the approval amount of our County CEO to be in-line with other counties of our size, we have reduced the day-to-day items that come to the Board and enable our staff to do their job. Saving both time and taxpayer dollars.
Merced County Spring Fairground Improvements ? Los Banos?
Over twenty-five years ago, the City of Los Banos and Merced County entered into a long-term lease for the baseball fields at the Los Banos Spring Fairgrounds. As part of that agreement, the City of Los Banos agreed to construct restroom facilities near the fields in order to provide sanitary services for the families, children and visitors that enjoy the fields regularly.? Working with the Merced County Spring Fair Grounds Board of Directors, The County and the City, we were able to execute a new lease and the much-needed restrooms are now installed.
County Public Health Department Accredited
The Merced County Public Health Department achieved accredidation by the Public Health Accredidation Board.? There are less than 300 public health departments across the country that have earned this milestone and they are the first in the San Joaquin Valley.
The deterioration of our roads, especially on the Westside has been an issue for decades.? And as much as we would all liked them repaired or replaced right away, that is not feasible or affordable.? My effort has been to get our fair share, to make sure our repairs and projects were moving forward – and I am happy to report that we are making progress.? Measure V and SB 1 have enabled our road repair efforts to expand.? We have been able to address the areas that are highly traveled and in disrepair.? For the safety of pedestrians, especially children as they walk to and from school, stop signs were installed ?at the intersection of Valeria and Palm in Dos Palos. There are more efforts in this regard coming and I want to thank you all for your patience as we move forward, one stretch of road at a time.