Despite the uproar over the lack of Southern Humboldt infrastructure help from Measure Z, when it came time for funding applications this year, only one came from the area.
On Tuesday, March 2, the Citizens’ Advisory Committee on Measure Z Expenditures met in Eureka to begin discussions on the 44 applications looking for funding in the 2017-2018 fiscal year. While two from Southern Humboldt were initially on the list, on Friday, one revoked their application, leaving a sole Southern Humboldt applicant.
Measure Z, voted in in 2014 by Humboldt County voters with a 56.94 percent win, was intended to support safety and essential services. Since the measure’s inception, the fund has supported the hiring of additional sheriff’s deputies, upgrades to old fire equipment — especially to rural volunteer fire departments — programs that help the elderly and additions to the public defender’s staff.
After public outcry that resulted in the temporary fencing off of Garberville’s Town Square last summer, Southern Humboldt law enforcement was expanded to 24-hour coverage starting Jan. 15, and funding to upgrade old fire equipment in rural areas was successful for the 2016-2017 fiscal years. According to that year’s summary on activities funded, the Fire Districts reported; “45 sets of structural Personal Protective Equipment and 30 sets of wildland PPE’s have been purchased. Three fire engines have been allocated to Carlotta and Fruitland VFP as well as Petrolia FPD. In addition, the process of ordering has been initiated for the Kneeland, Orick, Bridgeville, Redcrest and Telegraph Ridge departments. The ordering of the buildings has proven to be difficult. There are unanticipated expenses associated to the preparing of the foundation and the inclement weather this fall has delayed the process. It is anticipated that these project may not be completed until the next fiscal year.”
The applications for funding for 2017-2018 come from mostly the same parties as the previous year, including each city in Humboldt County, the county’s Public Works department for road repair and maintenance, the Sheriff’s Office for more staff and equipment and Area 1 Agency on Aging, all previously successful applicants, and all with funding asks covering the entire county.
For Southern Humboldt specific, the only application that remains in play is from the Garberville Sanitary District who asked for $112,000 for the restoration and upkeep of 14 fire hydrants in the area. The hydrants currently do not work as they should, some not at all. Explained Ralph Emerson, general manager of the GSD in his application, “Budget limitations have been a factor in not making these improvements (to existing fire hydrants) and providing reliable fire suppression which is why we adopted a long term plan for budgeting money each year for hydrant repairs or replacement. My concern is that at a rate of adding one or two hydrants per year, the residents of Garberville will not be fully protected with fire suppression capability through fire hydrants for 10 years.”
The other Southern Humboldt application was from the Weott Volunteer Fire Department, who on Friday, rescinded their application according to a spokesperson for the Humboldt County Administrative Office. The spokesperson explained that the department withdrew because the department is disbanding. Attempts to reach a spokesperson for the Weott Fire Department by press time were unsuccessful.
The present members of the Measure Z Citizens’ Advisory Committee are Jonathan Flyer (1st District), Shon Wellborn (2nd District), Ginger Campbell (3rd District), Mike Newman (4th District), Leonard Masten (5th District), Lora Canzoneri, at-large, Mike Downey, Sheriff’s Department representative, Brian Anderson, Fire Chief’s Association representative, and alternates: Glen Ziemer and John McFarland. One at-large seat remains vacant and applications are open.
As with previous funding decisions, the CAO spokesperson explained that the committee members will individually place each application under a category of must, need or wish. When they meet again, they will share their conclusions and further categorize the applications. The committee will meet in Eureka on March 9, 16 and 23 to discuss the applications.
The committee will make its final recommendations for funding in the 2017-2018 cycle by April 7 to the CAO who will then prepare a report for the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors for their May 2 Third Quarter Budget Report.
The committee meetings are open to the public.
The March 9 meeting is from 2-4 p.m. in the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors Chambers at 825 5th Street in Eureka. For detailed information about the committee, visit www.humboldtgov.org/1968/Measure-Z-Citizens-Advisory-Committee.