Mad River Union
HUMBOLDT – The Arcata, McKinleyville and Trinidad areas are benefitting from Measure Z public safety revenue, which is paying for school resource officers, sheriff’s deputy coverage and a walkway improvement.
The board made decisions on funding recommendations from the Measure Z Citizens Advisory Committee at the April 24 supervisors meeting. The advisory committee reviewed $13 million worth of funding requests vying for the $4.3 million of available Measure Z funding for the upcoming fiscal year.
Among the advisory committee’s primary funding recommendations is $353,367 for continued funding of an Arcata Police Department (APD) school resource officer and two “juvenile diversion counselors” for K-12 students.
Supervisors approved the APD’s funding request along with other primary items recommended by the committee.
Other requests were taken up as supervisors approved forwarding $105,000 of unspent Measure Z funding, reduced county Fire Chiefs Association funding and deferred a $100,000 audit of Measure Z spending.
During a public comment period, Trinidad City Manager Daniel Berman asked supervisors to fund a sheriff’s deputy position for split coverage of Trinidad and Blue Lake.
The advisory committee didn’t recommend funding it but Berman said it’s a position that will help McKinleyville as well as the two cities.
“If we don’t have these deputies spread out in Trinidad and Blue Lake, we still get a response from the Sheriff’s (Office) but they’ve got to come from McKinleyville and they’re drawn away for hours from the population center where they’re needed the most,” he continued.
Trinidad Mayor Susan Rotwein also highlighted the importance of funding the deputy position, saying not doing so would “eliminate law enforcement coverage by contract in the City of Trinidad after December.”
Also during public comment, McKinleyville Union School District Superintendent Jan Schmidt asked for school resource officer funding, noting that it was allocated in the past but the Sheriff Office wasn’t able to staff the position.
“We were funded for something we never got and now that we have the ability to get the staffing, we’re not going to get the funding,” she said. “And that seems a little bit wrong.”
McKinleyville High School Principal Nic Collart told supervisors that a school resource officer would “build a bridge to help support students at an age where they might need it the most, to help them become productive members of society.”
He added that students “welcome the idea of having a school resource officer on campus – obviously, recent events in our country have put them in a place where they question their safety.”
Supervisors also considered unrecommended requests for various pedestrian pathway projects, including a City of Arcata request for lighting improvements on the 17th Street walkway to Humboldt State University.
Supervisor Mike Wilson vouched for the importance of pedestrian safety. “We talk a lot about roads and the safety of everyone in cars – we keep talking about that a lot – but people are getting hit by vehicles in various places,” he said.
Supervisors responded favorably to the public comment they’d heard, approving $85,000 of Measure Z spending for the McKinleyville school resource officer and $75,000 for the Trinidad/Blue Lake sheriff’s deputy.
Arcata’s $35,000 request for the 17th Street pathway’s lighting improvements was only partially approved, as supervisors decided to split that amount between Arcata’s project and pedestrian projects in Willow Creek and Southern Humboldt.
Also approved was security guard coverage of the county’s main library branch in Eureka and adding $268,600 to road improvement funding, bolstering the advisory committee’s recommendation to spend $578,550 on it.
Before the votes, Supervisor Rex Bohn asked county Sheriff Billy Honsal if funding for school resource officers can be gained from school sources.
Honsal said he intends to work with the McKinleyville district on exploring the option. “If we can get at least partial funding from the school district, we’re going to really try and do that,” Honsal said.