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Napa County plans half-billion-dollar "recovery" budget
County government

Napa County plans half-billion-dollar "recovery" budget

Napa County Administration Building

The Napa County Administration Building.

Napa County has a tentatively approved, half-billion-dollar “Year of Recovery” budget that shows a spending increase and emphasizes such things as wildfire prevention.

COVID-19 and the Glass and Hennessey fires didn’t deal a fatal blow to county finances. The county is completing a $533 million budget for the 2021-22 fiscal year from July 1 to June 30, compared to the $505 million 2020-21 budget approved a year ago amid the pandemic.

In fact, the budget will top the last pre-pandemic budget of $515 million passed two years ago, though this doesn't take inflation into account.

"We are excited to report we see this upcoming year as a year of recovery as we gradually reopen our economy," Assistant County Executive Officer Becky Craig said.

The Board of Supervisors on Monday tentatively approved the 2021-22 budget and is scheduled to take a final vote on June 22.

Supervisors in April voted to have the county spend $1 million on a community wildfire fuel clearing plan and said the county would kick in another $5.4 million for 2021-22. The tentative budget follows through on that pledge.

The community wildfire prevention plan calls for such things as fuel breaks around Angwin and other rural communities and near cities.

“Investing in prevention will lessen the devastating impacts on property owners, growers, businesses, and tax revenues,” County Executive Officer Minh Tran wrote in the county budget.

The tentative budget has expenses big and small.

The big includes about $25 million in road projects, including resurfacing parts of Mount Veeder Road, Patrick Road, Atlas Peak Road, Hillcrest Avenue, Soda Canyon Road, Vichy Avenue, and Second Avenue, among other projects.

When Board of Supervisors Chairperson Alfredo Pedroza at one time talked about improving county communications with the public in general, Supervisor Ryan Gregory had a wry rejoinder.

"I think the most amazing way to connect with a constituent is to pave their road," Gregory said.

On the small side, the Sheriff’s Office asked to spend a $9,000 grant on a Honda motorcycle to patrol far-flung places such as Knoxville that are inaccessible to regular patrol vehicles.

Supervisor Brad Wagenknecht called attention to a mental health mobile crisis response team the county plans to launch.

Napa County is seeing more and more the need for mental health services to be out in the community, Health and Human Services Agency Director Jennifer Yasumoto said. The mobile crisis ream could be ready in September.

County services range from public health to rural wine country planning to libraries to jails to rural road maintenance to health and social services.

Much of the county’s money must be spent in certain ways, such as state money targeted for health and social services. The Board of Supervisors has the most flexibility with the $217.5 million general fund.

Tax revenues for the general fund are expected to rise from $114 million this fiscal year to $127 million as the recovery kicks in, according to the proposed budget. Other money sources include licenses, permits, and charges for services.

“County services are anticipated to return to pre-COVID-19 levels over the next two years as the local economy further reopens and tourists address the pent-up demand for travel,” Tran wrote in a budget message.

It's all in the 400-plus-page budget.

"This is our story — how we do it, what we do," Auditor-Controller Tracy Schulze said.

The Golden State produces a third of the nation's fruit and vegetables which are vital countrywide. However, this year, drought has brought California's farming industry to its knees. California Farmers Union Vice President George Davis, who runs his own farm in Sonoma County, has experienced first-hand the devastating toll drought can take. Source by: Stringr

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Napa County Reporter

Barry Eberling covers Napa County government, transportation, the environment and general assignments. He has worked for the Napa Valley Register since fall 2014 and previously worked 27 years for the Daily Republic of Fairfield.

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