(Victor Valley)-– The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors approved numerous expenditures for road paving, bridge repair, park upgrades, a new fire station and other projects that reflect a larger, strategic effort to place the County on a sound financial course while freeing up dollars to wisely invest in infrastructure and amenities that provide a solid return for taxpayers.
“The Board of Supervisors is seeing to it that public money is spent for maximum public benefit in a sustainable way that fosters economic development while reducing waste,” said First District Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt following his second-to-last meeting as County Supervisor. “Today was a culmination of years of hard work, and many more beneficial projects are in motion. I am pleased with the progress we are making despite the worst economy since the Great Depression.”
On the public safety front, the Supervisors today awarded a $2.1 million construction contract to Avi-Con, Inc., for construction of a new fire station at Spring Valley Lake to replace the “temporary” fire station that has served the community for 20 years. Funding for the project comes from the federal government’s Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program, which is meant to compensate counties with large tracts of federal land for the cost of providing public services.
Though Congress rarely delivers all of the money to which counties are entitled under the formula, it did fully fund the program for five years as part of a budget deal during the George W. Bush administration, meaning an additional $5 million to San Bernardino County. Supervisor Mitzelfelt proposed, and the other supervisors agreed, that a one-time windfall should be used for one-time capital projects, and that desert fire stations would be the most appropriate use for that funding.
Several key infrastructure projects were also approved today. They include:
* Reconstruction of National Trails Highway (Historic Route 66) in the Oro Grand area from Vista Road to one mile north, at a cost of $590,000 funded by Proposition 1B, the state transportation bond measure, and no cost to the County General Fund. Over the past three years the Department of Public Works resurfaced six miles of National Trails Highway, from four miles south of the current project to two miles north of the current project. This one mile project completes this seven mile reach of National Trails Highway. Construction is scheduled to begin and end in April 2013.
* Rehabilitation and reconstruction of Bear Valley Cutoff, between Joshua Road and State Highway 18, in the Apple Valley area, at an estimated cost of $1,310,000, also funded by Proposition 1B at no cost to the County General Fund. Construction of the road improvements will begin in April 2013 and will end in May 2013.
* Reconstruction of Bellflower Street between Mojave Drive and Cactus Road in Adelanto, at a cost of $767,000, financed by Measure I, the voter-approved, half-cent sales tax for transportation. Construction of the road improvements will begin in January 2013 and will end by April 2013.
* Rehabilitation and repair of two bridges on National Trails Highway in the Ludlow area at Avon Wash and Kalmia Ditch, at a cost of $600,000, funded by a grant from the Federal Highway Bridge Replacement and Rehabilitation Program. The grant includes $25,000 for development of a countywide bridge preventative maintenance plan. It is estimated that the repairs will take place in Fiscal Year 2013/2014.
Local government also is responsible for developing, maintaining and improving public amenities that improve the quality of life for residents, and in some cases provide opportunities for additional revenue to help offset costs. For example, Supervisors today approved a number of capital improvement projects, including $293,280 for improvements to the Off-Highway Vehicle area at Park Moabi, funded by the Regional Parks Department’s OHV fund derived from state OHV registration fees. The Colorado Riverfront park’s operations were recently contracted by the County to the private operators of its Pirate Cove Resort at significant savings to the County.
Combined with recent and planned improvements at Calico Ghost Town Regional Park, those expenditures are examples of making improvements to popular facilities that will draw even more residents and tourists for recreation, and generate more revenue for the County. Supervisor Mitzelfelt observed that his allocation of discretionary district funds (recently eliminated going forward by the Board over Mitzelfelt’s objections) paid for museum upgrades at the County’s top-grossing regional park at Calico, and that that allocation attracted Capital Improvement Program dollars for additional improvements.
“We saw the same phenomenon play out with the allocations that resulted in the complete renovation of the Barstow Sheriff’s Station and the construction of the Phelan Memorial Library,” Supervisor Mitzelfelt said. “Board Member dollars help leverage other dollars. Such allocations also helped create the School of Aviation Technology in Victorville, which gave the County’s Workforce Investment Board an ideal population of high-tech trainees to assist.”
“One of my messages to my successor during what will be a thorough and exhaustive transition will be the importance of restoring the Board’s discretionary funds program,” Supervisor Mitzelfelt said.