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Welcome to the Sonoma County Gazette ARCHIVE of PAST EDITIONS. Our NEW WEBSITE is up and running, so GazExtra is serving as your path to archived articles. Thanks for being part of our Sonoma County community...stay in touch...e-mail me - VESTA

Monday, August 31, 2009

Sonoma County Supervisor Efren Carrillo - August 09

Summer in Sonoma County is simply the best. Celebrating our Nation’s Birthday all along the Russian River, I was able to participate in many of the annual celebrations that are uniquely West County. Community spirit is definitely alive in our District.

July saw the opening of our newest Regional Park at Sunset Beach. This project involved many people over the years, and was shepherded through the process by my predecessor, Mike Reilly. Mike and his wife Judi joined me and Mary Burns, Regional Parks Director, along with a happy group of local people and Parks staff to launch this newest Russian River gem.

Perfect weather drew sizable crowds to our County “Fair Before Time.” Worries about the impact of the economy seem to have taken a break, as turnout at the Fair has been close to normal. The Hall of Flowers was particularly spectacular this year, and on the days we visited the crowds seemed to be having a great time.

My colleague, First District Supervisor Valerie Brown, was sworn in as President of the National Association of Counties (NACo) at the end of July. Her term comes at an exciting, yet extremely challenging time for our County. We are fortunate to have her service and close ties with our Federal Government in particular as we look at health care reform and climate change and energy policy. Congratulations, Valerie!

If you’ve driven on River Road this Summer, you’ve probably seen the extensive repair to the Hilton Slide area, just across from the River Pub. This huge hillside reinforcement had been on the books for several years, and was funded by the Federal government late last year. Proposition 1B money was also committed for this $3million project. This complex project began at the top of the slide, and will work its way down and toward completion sometime this Fall.

Stimulus funds have resulted in a number of paving projects in our District, most of these on major arterials. It is fortunate that some Federal funding arrived for road work, as this year’s budget for the Department of Transportation and Public Works has been greatly impacted by the loss of gas tax revenues. Our newly passed State budget calls for another $6.25 million in gas tax revenues to be borrowed from our County allotment.

Ironically, our copy of the final 2009-2010 County budget landed on our desks as the Governor was using his veto powers to take more money than expected from local government. After months of working to arrive at a balanced budget with a $26 million reduction expected, this development will require more sacrifice and loss of service delivery.

The impacts of the current round of cuts will directly affect services needed by the most disadvantaged and underserved members of our community. Children enrolled in Healthy Families , those who receive Cal Works training, recipients of child welfare services, foster families, blind, disabled, and elderly individuals are all due to receive hefty cuts to their support and programs. These program cuts come at a time when the ranks of people needing services are swelling due to the economic downturn. Additionally, community based organizations dealing with donation reductions are less able to fill the gap.

The Healthy Families program currently insures 12,000 children in Sonoma County. 65% of the program costs are funded by the Federal Government, with the State matching 35% of costs. With the program being cut, these children will have very limited access to healthcare, none to primary caregivers, and will be diverted to already overcrowded emergency rooms…the State will save 35%, and 100% of those dollars will be pulled out of our local economy.

The unseen costs of these cuts will be born by our local doctors, hospitals, and health clinics-which are already struggling with the economy and increased uninsured population.

Creativity, perseverance, and increased community engagement will all be necessary to alleviate the pain of these cuts. Now is the time for community members to join together to help those in need. Your time is a valuable gift, and if you are able to volunteer (or if you need help) please call Sonoma County’s Helpline at 2-1-1. If you have the financial means, our community based organizations need our help now more then ever.