An ordinance that seeks to address a huge backlog in Santa Barbara County's infrastructure needs will come back before the Board of Supervisors, which voted unanimously Tuesday to look at the fiscal impacts next month, and decide whether to approve the law or put it before voters in June.
Fourth District Supervisor Peter Adam is spearheading the effort, and has called on the county to address its backlog of maintenance, which has been estimated at $306 million in projects on the county’s roads, bridges and parks.
Adam led the successful effort to gather more than 13,200 valid signatures on petitions supporting the ordinance. Adam and his supporters turned in 20,561 signatures, and County Clerk Joseph Holland's staff determined that they had nearly 16,000 that were valid.
That left the Board of Supervisors with the choice of either approving the ordinance itself exactly as submitted or sending it on for voters to decide.
The ordinance requires the board to maintain all county facilities used by the public in a condition that is the same as or better than the condition they are in when the ordinance is passed. If the board decides to use debt to accomplish that, the ordinance states it would have to be approved by voters.
"This is to make sure we don't defer any more maintenance," Adam told told his colleagues at Tuesday's meeting.
The supervisors agreed to have staff return with the fiscal impacts at their Feb. 4 meeting, and they'll have 10 days to adopt it as an ordinance or have it go before the voters during a June statewide primary election.
Supervisor Salud Carbajal said he understood the premise of the ordinance, but wondered about the county's other obligations on an already tight budget.
"As we look to fund the county jail … I'm trying to understand how we reconcile that balance and how this measure helps us do that or not. I lean towards more information for us and the public," he said, adding that he wanted to congratulate Adam for gathering the signatures for the measure, calling it a "significant feat."