Approve bylaws, but has COVID-19 put a dent in county’s finances?
The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors appointed 17 applicants to the Measure X Community Advisory Board on Tuesday that will oversee the disbursement of $81 million in new annual sales tax revenue county officials are counting on to fund vital operations.
Passed by 58.45% of the vote of Contra Costa voters, last November, Measure X increased the county’s sales taxes from 8.25 percent to 8.75 percent on everything except food sales. The additional annual revenue aims to support county services intended for the regional hospital, community health centers, emergency response, childhood services and protective services of vulnerable populations. (See related articles here and here) CCC_2021MeasureX_FullText
There was no public comment aired for either the 17 appointments or the bylaws established for the Proposition X Community Advisory Board.
But this observer questions if the newly formed Measure X Advisory Board will be put to the test at a time the county’s economy is recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic. What if the panel learns that instead of the $81 million that the county counts on to be generated from the half-cent sales tax increase, that in the first year it might be only $50 million or $60 million because people are not spending like they used to?
The $81 million figure was generated before COVID-19 popped onto the global landscape and the county’s economy was in much better shape at a 3.2 percent unemployment rate compared to a 7.7 percent unemployment rate today.
The supervisors’ Finance Committee, comprised of District 4 Supervisor Karen Mitchoff of Pleasant Hill and District 1 Supervisor John Gioia of Richmond, interviewed more than 130 applicants for the Measure X panel.
“We had a high number of high-quality people apply for this board,” said Gioia. “It wasn’t easy to choose candidates.”
District 2 Supervisor Candace Andersen concurred with Gioia commenting, “We had amazing candidates!”
Each supervisor selected two Community Advisory Board members and one alternate. Seven at-large representatives were selected as well as five at-large seat alternatives.
Housing advocates Brenda Williams and Edith Pastrano, both of Richmond were selected by Supervisor Gioia to serve on the Community Advisory Board. El Cerrito psychotherapist Cathy Hanville was selected to serve as an alternate by Gioia.
District 2 Supervisor Andersen selected real estate expert Kathryn Chiverton of Alamo and investment banker Jim Cervantes of Lafayette to serve on the Community Advisory Board. Supervisor Andersen picked Walnut Creek retired housing consultant Donna Colombo as an alternate.
NAACP East County Branch Past President Odessa Le Francois of Antioch and transitional housing agent David Cruise of Brentwood were named by District 3 Supervisor Diane Burgis to serve on the advisory board. The board chair also selected housing expert Sandro Trujillo of Antioch as an alternate.
Supervisor Mitchoff selected to represent District IV, psychologist Dr. Michelle Hernandez of Concord and Meals on Wheels executive Sharon Quesada Jenkins of Concord. Pello Walker of Concord was named an alternate. He is owner/organizer of the annual sustainable enterprise conferences in Contra Costa County.
District 5 Supervisor Glover picked work force specialist Michelle Stewart of Pittsburg and attorney Ali Saidi of Pinole to serve on the advisory panel. Antioch resident Gigi Crowder, a mental health professional, was selected by Glover as an alternate.
Selected as at-large members are founder and executive director of RYSE Kimberly Aceves-Inguez of Oakland, Dr. Ruth Fernandez of Concord who is director of First 5, senior citizen advocate Debbie Toth of Fairfield, social service expert Sandra Wall of American Canyon, executive legal assistant at UnCommon Law Susan Kim of Berkeley, and Senior Director of Ensuring Opportunity Campaign to End Poverty in Contra Costa Mariana Moore of Benicia, and Rodeo Hercules Fire Captain and Local 1230 Vice President Jerry Short of El Sobrante.
Named as at large alternates are San Pablo Mayor Genovea Colloway, First 5 Association Executive Director Melissa Stafford Jones of Walnut Creek, pediatrician Dr. Diana Hong of Orinda, East Bay Leadership Council policy director Lindy Lavender of Pacheco and physician Dr. Peter Benson of Alamo.
According to the Community Advisory Board’s by-laws that supervisors also approved in tandem with the selection of board appointments, meetings are to be conducted publicly and in compliance with the Ralph M. Brown Act and the Contra Costa County Better Governance Ordinance for Public Comment.
There is no compensation for serving on the Measure X Community Advisory Board. In addition, there is “no reimbursement to board members for any expenses incurred while conducting official business,” the bylaws state.