SLO County getting $54.9 million in COVID-19 funding, how will it be spent?

March 20, 2021

SLO County Administrator Wade Horton

By KAREN VELIE

San Luis Obispo County is in line to receive an estimated $54.9 million as part of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act, and two supervisors have been selected to develop a plan on how to spend the funds.

Instead of the entire board conducting public workshops on how the funds will be doled out, county staff suggested a two-supervisor committee comprised of John Peschong and Bruce Gibson, who can meet and confer in private. Peschong made the motion for the ad-hoc committee, which was seconded by Gibson.

Supervisors Lynn Compton and Debbie Arnold argued that all five supervisors should work together on the proposed spending plan.

Responding to their concerns, SLO County Administrator Wade Horton said Compton and Arnold could give him suggestions that he would relay to Gibson and Peschong.

County Counsel Rita Neal then told Horton he needed to be careful not to violate the Brown Act.

The Brown Act prohibits serial communications, which are communications relayed to at least three supervisors, although the supervisors are not present at a publicly posted and conducted Brown Act meeting. This could also include Horton promoting his plan for an ad-hoc committee to three or more supervisors prior to last Tuesday’s meeting.

Compton also voiced concerns that a two-man committee dilutes the views of the majority of the board.

Supervisor Dawn Ortiz-Legg said she supported her fellow female supervisors, before admitting she could not remember one of their names and voting against them.

Peschong, Gibson and Ortiz-Legg voted for the ad-hoc committee comprised of Gibson and Peschong. Compton and Arnold dissented.

The county is slated to receive half of funding in the next 60 days, with the remainder of the money arriving no earlier than 12 months after the first payment.

Funds can be used to:

  • Respond to COVID-19 emergencies
  • Provide aid to households, businesses, nonprofits, tourism and hospitality
  • Provide premium pay to essential employees
  • Provide government services impacted by the pandemic
  • Investment in water, sewer and broadband infrastructure

After Peschong and Gibson develop their spending plan, the remaining board members will have an opportunity to provide input.


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Gordo

The county has seen declining sales tax revenues for the last several years. In the last few years the County dipped into it reserves to balance the budget, after giving a round of raises to workers after they threatened a strike. The reserves had reached a low point that required budget reductions in all departments last fall as the departments began their FY 21-22 budget planning.


Added to these reductions were instructions from Horton’s office to cut additional percentages across the board in all departments.

The projected decline in sales tax revenue coupled with the closure of Diablo and the loss of revenue that represents was forcing the County to make tough choices.


But now “Sugar Daddy Joe” has sent money and all the talk of budget reductions has gone out the window! The County is even moving forward with raises of up to 8% (analyst positions). The can has been kicked down the road for another year and everybody in elected office is breathing a sigh of relief. But, budget cuts are coming and when they do they will be more painful than if budgets and County services had been reduced gradually, instead of all at once, which is probably what will happen in 2022-2023.


copperhead

How about reparations and a pension bump


womanwhohasbeenthere

Can someone please explain to me what “investment in water, sewer and broadband infrastructure” has to do with the coronavirus? Wasn’t this supposed to be done all along with local and/or matching state or federal funds? It’s just a grab bag full of goodies. Can’t wait ot see what idiotic stuff gets funded in the name of “recovery.”


Messkit

How about, we just return it to the pilfered coffers where it came from?


This is not a “windfall”, this is pay-off money for leftist policies that destroyed the strong and growing economy of the Trump administration. That truth, was admitted by the suggestion that monies go toward


“o Provide premium pay to essential employees”

“o Provide government services impacted by the pandemic”


Simply said, city and county union government workers will receive bonuses, pensions, and benefits far beyond what city and county taxpayers ever voted for.


diamond

Aw, The smell of Supervisor Raises.


Zoiebowie

Maybe the money should be spent on more discussions about race, and inclusivity. Let’s find solutions to problems that don’t exist. Our feelings and emotions are what matter. Ha ha.


LameCommenter

Or do something NOVEL, give back (refuse) every dime not immediately applicable and allocable to specific Covid costs? It’s funny money we shouldn’t spend.


Or for Wade, a $250 “refresher” class on the Brown Act, which under AB1234 he and I and ALL government staff, appointees, electeds, elites, and apparatchiks were trained about in a classroom setting each two years!


isoslo

Anyone think the county will use any of this money to help the citizens? Or do you think they will use the vast majority to help the government employees remain well paid until death?


mazin

After all those who want to get vaccinated get their vaccine, say end of May. Let’s lever these funds with a massive advertising campaign promoting in-state and near state travel to SLO County. People are itching to go. This will promote quick recovery in the retail, food and lodging industries. Be the first in-state tourist local to seize this opportunity. Use the money to make more money.


tidepool

‘Supervisor Dawn Ortiz-Legg said she supported her fellow female supervisors, before admitting she could not remember one of their names and voting against them’

Thank you Gavin for picking Dawn Ortiz-Legg out over all the other qualified applicants. She obviously is such a great replacement for Adam Hill. NOT!!!!!!!!!!!!! As much of a disappointment Adam was, at least he knew the names of his colleagues.