Mad River Union
HUMBOLDT – Humboldt County’s Measure Z funding priorities have been chosen, with firefighting services getting the largest share at $1.9 million.
The county’s Board of Supervisors signed off on Measure Z funding projects at its April 20 meeting.
Measure Z public safety sales tax revenue for the coming fiscal year amounts to $12.5 million.
Much of it will be spent to support previously-allocated staffing positions in key public safety agencies.
There’s a $4.5 million balance available for additional funding. The Humboldt County Fire Chiefs Association’s share is the largest but Glenn Ziemer, the chair of the Measure Z Advisory Committee, said it’s a $600,000 reduction from what was asked for.
He added that although the recommendation process structure didn’t change, there was less public input due to COVID-19-style videoconference deliberations.
Among the items forwarded for supervisors’ approval is about $300,000 for continued funding of the Arcata Police Department’s school resource officer and two juvenile diversion officers.
The youth-focused officers work the Arcata/McKinleyville area and the funding application states that the Measure Z contribution allows probes of “critical incidents such as rape and violent crimes” and drug and alcohol counseling.
Other funding items in the recommended Measure Z roster include $500,000 for the Sheriff’s Office’s emergency radio upgrade project and $150,000 for two emergency communications dispatchers.
The recommendations also include Eureka-based Mobile Intervention Services Team homeless outreach, The K’ima:w Medical Center’s ambulance service in the county’s eastern area, cleaning up illegal dumping and school resource officers in the Arcata and Fortuna areas.
Another priority funding project is $125,000 for repaving 10 miles of county roads.
Asked why there isn’t more roads funding, Ziemer said the need dwarfs Measure Z’s funding power and roads funding continues to be available from a larger source established through the state’s SB 1 roads improvement bill.
County Sheriff Billy Honsal emphasized that the advisory committee recommends projects aligned with Measure Z’s public safety intent and the funding is used to expand services.
Supervisor Steve Madrone noted that despite the pandemic, 2020’s $12.5 million in Measure Z sales tax revenue represents an increase from the $10 million collected the previous year.
Supervisors unanimously voted to have staff work the committee’s recommendations into the coming fiscal year’s budget.
An $80,000 request for a Trinidad and Blue Lake area sheriff’s deputy wasn’t among the recommended items. Honsal said he doesn’t have the staffing to fill the slot.