The Board of Supervisors passed the county’s budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year. We are in year three of our four-year plan to eliminate the General Fund structural deficit, after several years of falling oil prices and rising employee benefit costs. All county departments, except for Kern County Fire, have endured cuts during our four-year plan, but the Board and I have asked your county government to maintain service levels despite these cuts. The efforts of every county department head and employee to find cost savings, and do more with less, has resulted in a reduction of the structural deficit from $44.5 million to $18.8 million this year. I am very proud of our county workforce.
Continuing the Board of Supervisors’ commitment to prioritizing public safety, the Sheriff Department and Fire Department will see NO cuts in this year’s budget.
On a positive note, this year we anticipate higher property tax revenues due largely to the increased price of a barrel of oil. Overall, property tax revenues are expected to rise 3.5%, which equates to a $7 million increase to the General Fund. Even with this increase, we still need to remain vigilant with our budget reduction plan, as employee pension costs continue to increase dramatically. In fact, pension costs for the county have increased approximately 70% over the last 10 years.
In addition, it is still very challenging to erase the deficit in the County Fire Fund. Once again, pension costs for the Fire Department are largely to blame for those challenges. Of the county’s overall $18 million deficit, the Fire Fund accounts for $7.5 million of it. The Board is committed to providing support to the Fire Department to solve this problem, and ensure it is fiscally secure.
Fiscal Year 2014-15 will prove to be a challenge as compared to the current fiscal year, mainly due to one very large factor: Kern Medical Center.
Some of the good news for next year’s budget is that the county assessment roll is due to increase by 2.8%, and the retirement rates have declined by 1.5% for general employees, and 2.4% for safety employees. All of this has helped to mitigate the bad news emanating from Kern Medical Center. READ MORE
On February 8th, my office partnered with Kern County Animal Services to hold a free spay/neuter clinic at Boron Park. It was a very successful event, with 37 dogs and cats being spayed or neutered in Boron and North Edwards alone, as well as 73 licensed dogs, 80 dog vaccinations, and 82 microchips administered to pets. Because of the great turnout in Boron, I will host another clinic in Boron in the near future. READ MORE
On February 25th, I was pleased to be the keynote speaker at the annual banquet put on by the Rosamond Rotary to honor and recognize the community service of the Kern County Sheriff’s Office each and every day. It was an honor to recognize Deputy Johnathan Juden as Deputy of the Year, as well as hand out certificates from my office to all the officers and support staff from the Rosamond Substation.
On May 1, I traveled to Sacramento to represent the Kern County Board of Supervisors, and give testimony to the California State Senate Finance and Governance Committee on Kern County's unanimous opposition to SB 241, a bill that would add a 9.9% tax on every barrel of oil extracted from California's ground or waters. The following was my testimony:
"Kern County produces 70% of California's oil, so almost all of the economic pain of an oil severance tax, while it may be aimed at large oil companies, will actually occur in Kern County. Up to 7,000 good-paying oilfield jobs would be lost in a county where unemployment is still above 13%, with some communities where unemployment is over 30%. The damage will ripple through Kern's economy to the stores where oilfield workers spend their wages, and to the companies that supply equipment and services to the oilfields. Petroleum equipment sales generate $20 million in annual sales tax revenues to local governments in Kern County.
I am pleased to report that our May 11th low-cost spay/neuter and vaccine clinic at West Park Activity Center in Tehachapi was a huge success! This clinic followed another successful clinic held on April 6th, and both clinics were a collaborative effort by my office, Kern County Animal Control, and Have a Heart Humane Society.
The conditions at Kern County Animal Control's shelter are unacceptable: extreme overcrowding causes high disease and euthanasia rates. To truly correct the pet overpopulation problem in Kern, we need to get out in our communities, and educate the pet-owning public on the importance of responsible pet ownership. The Animal Control Department has a dedicated team of officers that go into the neighborhoods to educate pet owners on licensing and the importance of spaying and neutering pets, as well as citing those that may abuse pet laws. READ MORE
I was honored to receive recognition by the Office of the Secretary of Defense for supporting the employment of National Guard and Reservists. Employers should hire those in our society that give of their time - away from their families and jobs - to protect our country. Colonel Ahron Hakimi, Executive Director of the Kern Council of Governments, presented me with the award. I first met Colonel Hakimi when he was an engineer for Caltrans, as we worked together on the Thomas Roads Improvement Projects, the program responsible for constructing the new Westside Parkway, and other much-needed road improvements around the metro Bakersfield area.
As a Kern COG council member, I now work with Colonel Hakimi in his new position as head of that agency. Colonel Hakimi also gives of his time in the National Guard, protecting our freedom and liberty. While I am humbled to receive this recognition, the men and women who serve in the National Guard and Reserve also humble me. These dedicated men and women must juggle their military service with their jobs, and provide love and support for their families. These individuals are the true heroes, and deserve our unfettered admiration and support.
Scrivner for Supervisor 2018
P.O. Box 700
Bakersfield, CA 93302
As your Second District Supervisor, I like to communicate with my constituents as much as possible. Check out our news page to find the latest news around the district.