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Fiscal overview shows progress, but tough times ahead

sb_cologo-full_colorThe economic recovery will allow the County to start restoring some levels of service that were reduced during the recession. However, the County is still looking at many more years of tight budgeting in response to projected shortfalls.

The Board of Supervisors today received the County’s annual fiscal overview, which projects $4.7 billion in revenue to address $4.7 billion in expenses for the fiscal year that begins July 1, including modest increases to community and fiscal oversight services that were cut to the bone during the recent economic downturn. It also includes prudent investment in basic County operating systems and infrastructure.

“The fiscal overview presented today shows that the County is continuing to focus on fiscal responsibility while slowly restoring service levels to where they were before the recession,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman James Ramos.

Projections show a modest $10.8 million budget surplus for the fiscal year that begins July 1. However, those same projections show a shortfall of $17.7 million to $40.8 million by 2020 when the cost of possible employee pay and benefit increases are factored in.

“We have been able to provide more to our hard-working County employees, who make public service possible, in areas where recruitment and retention have become challenges,” Chairman Ramos said. “But we must be extremely cautious going forward. Putting the County on stable fiscal footing, and restoring and maintaining vital public service levels, have to remain the County’s top priority.”

Rather than using funding and going into debt to pay for flashy new projects, the County is concentrating on restoring funding that was previously cut and investing in infrastructure to avoid higher costs later. This includes repairing roads, replacing antiquated emergency communications and fiscal systems, making the best use of existing space instead of building or leasing new space, and gradually restoring drastic cuts made to parks, museums, elections, and the Auditor-Controller.

Rebuilding the Auditor-Controller function will help the County keep even greater control of spending and collecting.

The County is also focusing on innovations that save money and time for taxpayers. San Bernardino County is the first Southern California county to use virtual building inspections to save travel costs and wait times. The County is also instituting a new system to identify and reduce welfare fraud.

During the past four years, the County has claimed more than 100 national and state innovation awards for developing or improving services for county residents and investors.

 

Supervisors adopt 2015-2016 Goals & Objectives

Achieving the Countywide Vision, increasing jobs and economic value, and ensuring the development of a well-planned, balanced, and sustainable county are among the goals and objectives established April 7 by the Board of Supervisors for the coming year.

“The Goals & Objectives are a promise to the people of San Bernardino County that the Board of Supervisors is fully committed to creating an outstanding quality of life for our residents, visitors, and investors,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman James Ramos. “Continuing our work toward achieving the Countywide Vision in collaboration with our cities and towns, schools, businesses, and other stakeholders will ensure that our county community will continue to thrive and succeed for generations to come.”

Final Government Works StampAnnual goals and objectives were established to create a clear line of authority between the public, as represented by the Board of Supervisors, and the activities carried out by County Government. The Board meets annually with the Chief Executive Officer as part of the CEO’s performance evaluation to develop the Goals & Objectives, which are then publicly discussed and acted upon by the Board. All proposals submitted to the Board and all activities carried out by County departments and staff must be tied to one or more of the Goals & Objectives.

“This Board has a strong commitment toward open and honest government,” Chairman Ramos said. “Publicly setting goals and objectives ensures that the public sets the County’s course and that County Government is accountable to the public for the work it does in our communities and how it spends the taxpayers’ dollars.”

The categories under which the Goals & Objectives fall are

— Implement the Countywide Vision

— Create, Maintain and Grow Jobs and Economic Value in the County

— Improve County Government Operations

— Operate in a Fiscally Responsible and Business-like Manner

— Ensure Development of a Well-Planned, Balanced, and Sustainable County

— Provide for the Safety, Health, and Social Service Needs of County Residents

— Pursue County Goals and Objectives by Working with Other Agencies

The County’s primary goal remains implementation of the Countywide Vision, www.sbcounty.gov/vision, by convening conversations on community collaboration and collective action, and supporting the work of the Vision element groups.

Public input sought during renewable energy listening session

sb_cologo-full_colorThe Land Use Services Department will continue to solicit public input on the future of renewable energy development throughout the County’s unincorporated areas during a special listening session from 2 to 4 p.m. on March 5.

For the last several months, the San Bernardino County Partnership for Renewable Energy and Conservation (SPARC) has held 10 public meetings and events to encourage people to help Land Use Services develop a Renewable Energy Element Framework for the County’s General Plan. The County seeks to strengthen its policies and regulatory system to manage renewable energy development while protecting our environment, communities, residents and economy.

The listening session will begin with an overview of the County’s planning progress and priorities from Planning Director Terri Rahhal, followed by public comments on the Element Framework and Outline.

The Element Framework and Outline can be found online at www.sbcounty.gov/main/renewable.pdf.

“Proper planning will allow us to find the balance between development and preservation.  While we agree that renewable energy sources are both beneficial and necessary, we must determine where those projects fit best within our county,” said James Ramos, Chairman of the Board of Supervisors. “On March 5th, I encourage residents to provide their input into how our county will deal with renewable energy development.  The County is here to listen.”

“Renewable energy can significantly impact local communities, so these projects need to be carefully located. That’s why I encourage residents to share their thoughts and concerns during this process,” said First District Supervisor Robert A. Lovingood.

The listening session will be the third round of public exchange on the County General Plan Renewable Energy Element process. Additional public workshops will follow in the spring.

The March 5 listening session will be conducted at:

Covington Chambers

County Government Center, First Floor

385 N. Arrowhead Ave., San Bernardino

During the session, the public can participate via videoconferencing at:

• Jerry Lewis High Desert Government Center

15900 Smoke Tree Street, Hesperia

• Bob Burke Joshua Tree Government Center

63665 Twentynine Palms Highway, Joshua Tree

 

County executive Keith Lee announces retirement

Keith LeeSan Bernardino County Deputy Executive Officer and Regional Parks Director Keith Lee, a longtime leader in County government and the community, is retiring after 29 years of service to the public.

“I appreciate the years of service I’ve been able to have in San Bernardino County,” Mr. Lee said as he was being honored during today’s Board of Supervisors meeting.

County Librarian Leonard Hernandez has been appointed to succeed Mr. Lee.

In addition to the County’s 10 regional parks and recreational facilities, Mr. Lee oversees the County Museum System, the County’s six airports, the County Library System, Registrar of Voters, and the Agriculture/Weights & Measures Department.

Prior to his appointment as Deputy Executive Officer, Mr. served as Director for the Jobs and Employment Services Department, where he was responsible for providing job training for economically disadvantaged adults and youth, welfare recipients, laid-off and older workers.

Mr. Lee began his service with the county as a field representative to the Board of Supervisors, serving as liaison to the local community, assisting in the drafting of legislation and ordinances, tracking and coordinating constituents’ concerns.

Mr. Lee holds an MBA and bachelor’s degrees in business administration and sociology.

In addition to his duties with the County, Mr. Lee has been active in the community, serving as past president of the Downtown YMCA and on the boards of directors of the Inland Empire Economic Partnership, the San Bernardino Valley College Foundation, The Unforgettables Foundation, The Volunteer Center, and the Youth Action Project.

County reschedules renewable energy listening session

sb_cologo-full_colorThe renewable energy policy initiative (SPARC) listening session originally scheduled for February 19, 2015 from 2-4 p.m. is being rescheduled to March 5, 2015 from 2-4 p.m., due to requests for additional time from community organizations.

Many community organizations are preparing comments for the State of California’s Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) which is currently under public review. DRECP comments are due by February 23,  2015.

Unlike the DRECP, the County General Plan Renewable Energy Element is a County government project that would balance desert conservation with renewable energy development within the unincorporated areas of San Bernardino County not owned by the state or federal government.

The listening session will focus on plans for the County General Plan renewable energy element and will be held in the Board of Supervisors Covington Chambers in San Bernardino, with opportunities for videoconference testimony from both the High Desert (Hesperia) and Joshua Tree county government centers. The session will begin with an overview of the County’s planning progress and priorities from County Planning Director Terri Rahhal, followed by public comments on the Element Framework and Outline.

The listening session will be the third round of public exchange on the County General Plan Renewable Energy Element process. Additional public workshops will follow in the spring.

The March 5th listening session will be conducted at:

Covington Chambers

County Government Center, First Floor

385 N. Arrowhead Ave., San Bernardino

During the meetings, the public can participate via videoconferencing at:

Jerry Lewis High Desert Government Center

15900 Smoke Tree Street, Hesperia

Bob Burke Joshua Tree Government Center

63665 Twentynine Palms Highway, Joshua Tree

Learn to navigate the State Budget process at Feb. 18 session

budgetphotoAre you interested in learning to navigate the State Budget process? Do you need to gain a better understanding of the State Budget and what it means to your job, organization and community?

If so, please join us for Dollars and Democracy: California’s Budget Process and the 2015-16 Budget Proposal. The presentation is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on February 18, 2015, in the Covington Chambers at the County Government Center, 385 N. Arrowhead Avenue in San Bernardino.

The presentation examines the roles of the Governor, the Legislature, and other key players, and highlights opportunities for the public and community leaders to be involved. The presentation will also examine the major issues in play as state leaders debate proposals for the 2015-16 fiscal year, including competing revenue projections and spending proposals on education, health, criminal justice, child care, economic development, and more.

Registration is required; please use the link below to register for your session of choice.

Register Here

 

County seeks public comment on renewable energy

logosmaller

Important dates are coming up for public participation in the development of two renewable energy policy initiatives.

The Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan, or DRECP, http://www.drecp.org, is a state and federal effort to balance desert conservation with renewable energy development in the desert regions of seven California counties, including San Bernardino County. San Bernardino County Government’s role in the DRECP is essentially the same as the public’s: The County can offer comments, but it has no direct authority over the content or outcome of the DRECP.

A draft of the DRECP can be viewed at http://www.drecp.org/draftdrecp/. The state and federal governments are accepting public comments on the draft DRECP through February 23, 2015. Comments can be made to docket@energy.ca.gov or by visiting http://www.drecp.org/about/contact.html#comments.

The County has drafted its proposed comments on the draft DRECP and on February 10, 2015, at 2 p.m., the Board of Supervisors will conduct a special meeting to consider staff’s recommendation for the County’s proposed response, which can be viewed at http://cob-sire.sbcounty.gov/sirepub/pubmtgframe.aspx?meetid=2535&doctype=AGENDA and clicking on Agenda Item 1.

The County cannot accept comments on the state/federal draft DRECP itself, only on the County’s proposed response.

This special meeting will take place in the Board of Supervisors Covington Chambers in San Bernardino, with opportunities for videoconference testimony from both the Hesperia and Joshua Tree county government centers. The meeting will also be webcast and can be viewed at http://www.sbcounty.gov/main/countydirect.asp.

The other renewable energy policy initiative with an important date looming is the County General Plan renewable energy element. Unlike the DRECP, the County General Plan renewable energy element is a County government project that would balance desert conservation with renewable energy development within the unincorporated areas of San Bernardino County not owned by the state or federal government.

County Land Use staff will soon announce a date for a listening session on plans for the County General Plan renewable energy element in the Board of Supervisors Covington Chambers in San Bernardino, with opportunities for videoconference testimony from both the Hesperia and Joshua Tree county government centers. This session will begin with an overview of the County’s planning progress and priorities from County Planning Director Terri Rahhal. The listening session will be the third round of public exchange on the County General Plan renewable energy element process. Additional public workshops will follow in the spring.

“The DRECP and County General Plan renewable energy element both involve renewable energy land use planning, but the similarities end there,” said County Land Use Services Director Tom Hudson. “The DRECP is a state and federal process over which the County has no jurisdiction. The County General Plan renewable energy element is the County’s effort to involve County residents and other stakeholders in creating responsible renewable energy land use policy for the unincorporated areas.”

Board of Supervisors Chairman James Ramos and Vice Chairman Robert A. Lovingood represent the County’s desert communities and have been very active in both processes on behalf of their constituents.

“With the public’s help, we can balance the need to preserve our desert environment with the need for renewable energy,” Chairman Ramos said. “The upcoming hearing on the County’s response to the DRECP and the County General Plan renewable energy element listening session are important opportunities for the public to become involved and have their voices heard.”

“The DRECP is a state and federal plan that will have a major impact on our desert, so I encourage local residents to share their thoughts and concerns,” Vice Chairman Lovingood said.

Both the February 10 special Board of Supervisors meeting and the future listening session will be conducted at:

• Covington Chambers

County Government Center, First Floor

385 N. Arrowhead Ave., San Bernardino

During the meetings, the public can participate via videoconferencing at:

• Jerry Lewis High Desert Government Center

15900 Smoke Tree Street, Hesperia

• Bob Burke Joshua Tree Government Center

63665 Twentynine Palms Highway, Joshua Tree

Wanted: Citizens to represent the region on state boards and commissions

MonaPasquil

Appointments Secretary Mona Pasquil recently visited the San Bernardino County Government Center in San Bernardino to help recruit citizens to serve on state boards and commissions.

The State of California’s Boards and Commissions are a litany of vast and varied topics: the Boating and Waterways Commission, the state boards of Barbering and Cosmetology, Guide Dogs for the Blind and the Gambling Control Commission.

Mona Pasquil knows all the vacancies by heart and tours the state of California looking for hundreds of citizens willing to serve and represent their communities on the state’s Boards and Commissions.

In January 2011, Pasquil was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown  to serve as his Appointments Secretary which she calls “the best job I ever had.”

That’s a bold statement considering Pasquil is a seasoned political adviser and strategist who also served as acting Lieutenant Governor after former Lieutenant Governor John Garamedi was elected to Congress. It marked the first time a woman, Asian Pacific Islander or Filipino-American, has served as Lieutenant Governor of California.

In her latest role, it’s especially important for Pasquil – the granddaughter of immigrants – to find people from a wide variety of backgrounds to serve, who are “not in the paper all the time, but working in the community all the time.”

“The Governor has asked the appointments team to find citizen public servants,” she said. “We’ve come to San Bernardino County to demystify the process and encourage people to participate.”

Time commitments vary depending on the board or commission. Some people serve statutory terms of two or four years, some people serve at the pleasure of the governor which means they can be replaced at any time, others need Senate confirmation to be appointed. Some boards meet four times a year, others meet once a month.

“Some are paid, but most are volunteer,” Pasquil said.

There are a variety of positions available, especially for non-experts. For instance, the Medical Board of California has vacancies for licensees and part-time faculty, but there is also a vacancy for a member of the public who does not have any affiliation with doctors or the medical field.

“We need the perspective from the outside,” Pasquil said of public members. “They ask the best questions. Sometimes the public members hear discipline cases and they tell us, ‘Do we have the right regulations to protect members of the public? Is this necessary? Is this outdated?'”

For example, Pasquil has spoken to a group of teachers about serving on Boards and Commissions who would likely fit in just fine on boards pertaining to education, but she needs them in a different role.

Pasquil got one teacher who was interested in guide dogs to serve on the state board for Guide Dogs for the Blind.

“It was totally not in her lane, but people have those passions,” she said.

Pasquil is looking for people who are comfortable asking questions of experts and who have a willingness to serve.

There have been challenges recruiting people from the Inland Empire as well as other areas of the state. For instance, a cancer research board had a member from the Central Valley retire and all the new applicants for the vacancy were from the San Francisco area. But the Central Valley has a number of health issues and needs that are different from those in northern California, Pasquil said.

The same goes for the Inland Empire, where issues on a variety of matters are different from those in other areas of the state.

“To not have a voice, to not have the Inland Empire represented is a loss for the region,” she said. “They would represent this part of the state.”

Anyone interested in applying for Boards and Commissions should visit http://gov.ca.gov/m_appointments.php. A list of current vacancies is available here.

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