Guest post: Supervisor Arnold discusses moving forward
By 5th District Supervisor Debbie Arnold
–As I write these words, I am looking at the most beautiful rain clouds creating a very dramatic sky. We are quickly approaching spring, and this late-season rain is so welcome after a relatively dry winter. Any more rain will be welcome, but it looks like we may be facing another drought year. While the lack of rain is hard on everyone in the agricultural business, the mild winter has helped many local businesses that were only allowed to serve customers or clients outside. It has been a long challenging year for so many of our local businesses, and I am happy to see us moving in the direction of opening things up.
The county continues to work hard to provide all the important services people depend on. Many county employees from many county departments have been temporarily moved to work on COVID-19 related projects. Some are contributing to the vaccination efforts. Others are working on economic relief efforts. All are working toward the goal of helping our citizens overcome the problems COVID-19 has caused and getting schools and businesses open again.
Preparing the annual county budget has been an extreme challenge this year. There are so many unknowns it is hard to predict how revenues will come in at both the local and state level. Approximately half of the county revenues come from the state or federal government to provide many of the health and social services county citizens depend on. The different stimulus packages have provided relief in many areas including economic stimulus funds to keep businesses going and jobs intact. We are working on finishing a draft budget for the next fiscal year 2021-2022, and things seem to be changing weekly.
With vaccine eligibility expanding to include education workers, food and agricultural workers, informal caregivers, and individuals 16 years and older with high-risk medical conditions, many more people will be able to get the vaccines they need to be protected.
I look forward to having the schools open, businesses open, and traditional activities and celebrations resumed. A year ago, things were looking bright. Our economy was booming and chambers of commerce county-wide were working with local governments and businesses looking to expand opportunities. Atascadero was especially changing and experiencing exciting commercial growth. All over the county there was talk on how to expand economic opportunities that would replace the jobs lost when Diablo Canyon closed. I cannot wait to get back to it! We are getting closer to safely getting back to the activities we enjoy, and the work that drives our economy.
Mostly, I cannot wait for county government to be able to conduct its business in person so citizens can be present at public hearings. Please feel free to call my office at (805) 781-4339 if we can be of any assistance navigating county services. It is truly and honor to serve as your fifth district supervisor.
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