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Local News

Board Discusses Santa Barbara County’s $84 Million Maintenance Backlog

Dealing with Santa Barbara County's $84 million maintenance backlog was under discussion by the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, and county staff are uncovering more costly repairs than expected as they've started to address the issue.

The board voted unanimously to receive a report from Roy Jorgensen Associates that included prioritizing the massive list of projects.

In 2013, Jorgensen was awarded a contract by the county to do an assessment of county-owned and operated buildings and parks, and was also commissioned to develop a maintenance plan.

The assessment evaluated about 8.5 million square feet of buildings, structures, and developed space, and about 310 acres of park facilities, about 70 percent of all the county's facilities.

The assessment did not include evaluation of county roads.

That report, presented to the board last May, found that the county's deferred maintenance amounted to about $84 million, and that most of the county's assets were in fair condition.

"If current levels of annual spending to operate, maintain and renew the county portfolio are continued, in 20 years, the FCI rating for the county portfolio will rise to 50 percent (very poor), and the accumulated deferred maintenance will rise to an estimated $1 billion," a staff report said.

The county prioritizes things like HVAC failures, hot water tanks, sewer systems and water lines, and is spending more money on unplanned emergency items.

The board allocated $1.4 million last year to preventative maintenance.

One of the projects the Parks Department allotted money to was a restroom renovation at Ocean Park in Lompoc, restriping of the parking lot and add 11 new picnic tables

"This was really dilapidated and dangerous," said Supervisor Peter Adam, adding that he was surprised that no one had been injured.

Utilities were also worked on at Nojoqui Park, the eastern most parking lot was repaved at Goleta Beach Park, along with a restroom renovation, and Manning Park also saw its restroom renovated.

The General Services Department made some improvements to fire stations in Orcutt and Sisquoc, the Solvang Court Complex and other changes.

Supervisor Salud Carbajal said he went to Manning Park with staff, and commended the improvements.

"I think the community approves them as well," he said.

Supervisor Steve Lavagnino asked whether any cities had been approached about turning over parks to the city to save costs; for example, relinquishing Arroyo Burro to the city of Santa Barbara.

Interim Community Services Director Renee Bahl said the county had not been approached by any cities wanting to take over county parks.

Carbajal also said that federal funding was available to do a repaving project in his district, which significantly raised their deferred maintenance 

"We've got to be real about where the high cost priority is," he said, encouraging staff to come up with a sound methodology on how to spend the money in order to get the most bang for their buck.

Supervisor Doreen Farr said the county should look at how to boost revenues, and Bahl said several projects are in the works to add concessions to places that are already developed, such as Lake Cachuma.

"We have amazing spaces in this county, and they're very valuable to the community, and the community might be able to pay in certain ways to utilize them differently," Farr said.

Supervisor Janet Wolf expressed concern about selling parks, and said that would need to be discussed at a future meeting.

Adam responded, "I have three words for you: No higher taxes."

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper 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.

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