Friday, April 20 , 2018, 12:24 am | Fair 56º


Local News

County Auditor-Controller Thinks Maintenance Initiative May Not Work

Auditor-Controller Bob Geis

The Santa Barbara County auditor-controller thinks the Board of Supervisors may not be able to comply with the terms of a proposed infrastructure-maintenance initiative if it is approved by voters. 

Fourth District Supervisor Peter Adam, who was the lone vote against this year’s county budget, gathered 15,000 signatures to get Measure M on the June 3 ballot.

Measure M, or “Fix Santa Barbara County,” would require the Board of Supervisors to keep all roads, parks and public buildings in the same, or better, condition that existed at the time the ordinance is passed, but offers no funding mechanism.

It’s not a tax, but prioritizes spending differently, Adam says.

Without any new revenue, there would have to be a “major reallocation” of county spending to fulfill the ordinance, Auditor-Controller Bob Geis wrote in his fiscal-impact statement for Measure M.

It could take away money from other department such as public safety and public health.

Since many of those services are mandated, “it may not be possible for the Board of Supervisors to fund the requirements of the ordinance,” Geis wrote in his analysis. 

Measure M doesn’t stop the county from finding new revenue sources, but any debt or new taxes would still have to be approved by voters – things like parcel taxes, general obligation bonds and infrastructure improvement bonds.

The county is still working on a report to outline the current condition of facilities, roads and parks, but Geis estimates that an additional $18 million-$21 million per year is needed to keep everything in the same or better condition it is now.

Roads are measured with a Pavement Condition Index and need another $9 million annually to stay at that level.

The county is trying out a new Facility Condition Index to measure parks and buildings status, and another $9 million to 12 million per year is needed to keep all of those facilities at their current levels, according to the fiscal impact statement.

Measure M already has mixed support among the Board of Supervisors, with Salud Carbajal and Doreen Farr writing the arguments against the measure for the ballot.

Adam recently made a presentation to the Santa Barbara Region Chamber of Commerce asking for its support and pointed out that the county’s 1,670 miles of roads are projected to fall back to 1989 conditions by 2020.

That’s after Measure D and Measure A, which poured millions of dollars into street repair and maintenance.

This initiative wouldn’t address the amount of deferred maintenance – fixing things that have already deteriorated – but would try to stop additional deterioration.

If the county can’t find $18 million a year to keep infrastructure from getting worse, Adam told the Chamber of Commerce, it’s not managing itself right.

The County Elections Office won’t release the official documents – including arguments and ballot language – until next week, but Geis submitted the fiscal impact statement early and made it available to the public.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Maestro, Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover, Debit

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >