The Mono Supervisors wrapped up their discussion on the 2008/09 budget Tuesday, reaching consensus on a major overhaul of the Public Works Department and earmarking over $1 million for capital improvements to county facilities.
The need for the Public Works overhaul has come about due to diverging trends that have plagued the road department in recent years. While citizen expectations for timely snow removal have been growing, state funding cutbacks have crippled the road budget. The department has also faced criticism for a lack of progress on facilities projects within the county.
The Supervisors have been insisting something be done, and during the budget hearings a restructuring plan was unveiled–at a total cost of nearly $1 million/year. Public Works Director Evan Nikirk explained that the first of three phases of the plan (around $370,000/year) was “critical” to providing the level of services the Supervisors are requesting.
The Supervisors saw Nikirk’s first phase, and raised him another phase, providing almost all of the requests for phase 2 as well. The total cost will be around $425,000/yr, which is in addition to the $530,000/year overmatch that the General Fund already provides to maintain county roads.
During Tuesday’s discussion, Supervisors also provided for $1.4 million towards work on the county’s many substandard facilities. Decisions about which facilities will be improved will be made at a later date, following a $25,000 Needs Assessment Study that will provide an independent analysis of which projects should come first.
Other funding decisions from Tuesday included a $500,000 contribution to help right the Social Services deficit, a decision to pay $850,000 up front for new property tax software instead of financing half, and finally, to leave $1.5 million in contingency.