By County Supervisor Dave Cortese
On July 1, the 2016 budget went into effect, the result of hard work by many employees, supervisors and their staffs. The $5.6 billion pays the salaries of 17,000 employees and oversees services for 1.8 million people, including public health and safety, parks and elections.
Because the economy has improved, we have begun to restore jobs that were cut during a decade of shortfalls. We were able to strengthen our health and hospital services, including the opening of a downtown clinic in 2016; beef up our sheriff's department and boost our efforts to end human trafficking; and put 500 teens and young adults to work this summer through our Youth Works Program. And we can launch new initiatives that address such critical needs as affordable housing and a new jail.
We also made it through some very difficult negotiations at the bargaining table, reaching an agreement in the wee hours of June 30 with our largest employees union, SEIU, and averting what would have been the first strike in 40 years.
Here are some of the other projects and programs that I recommended that are funded in this budget:
Project Welcome Home
Project Welcome Home will house and provide services to 150 to 200 chronically homeless individuals through an agreement with Abode Services, using the Pay for Success method. The county will invest $2 million a year for six years to help the neediest of our residents. The funding is set aside to repay upfront investors only if the project is determined to be successful by independent evaluators. I worked with Step Up Silicon Valley on this idea and brought it to the board in 2013.
Fraud protection for immigrants
The county is going to crack down on false "notarios" who pretend to be legal advisers for President Obama's immigration reform programs. We are adding a sergeant position in the Sheriff's Office to coordinate officers to conduct stings and respond to complaints. If your neighborhood or group would like a fraud protection presentation, call Josue Fuentes, deputy district attorney in the Community Prosecution Unit at (408) 792-2946.
Diabetes prevention and screening
Type 2 diabetes has been rising at an alarming rate, so we are adding a diabetes prevention coordinator and other funding to step up efforts to educate the public on how to avoid this preventable disease and increase public access to screenings. Supervisor Ken Yeager led this effort, which I proposed in my State of the County speech. Visit the Public Health web page for updates on prevention awareness and screening or call (408) 792-5040.
SCC GOV 101 Academy on the web
The Office of Public Affairs offers a yearly SCC GOV 101 Academy for 40 residents to learn about how county government works and how to get involved. Starting next year, we will put the information online and offer an Internet Academy. For more information about this project, call the public affairs office at (408) 299-5151.
The county will help provide year-round fire and emergency services at Sweetwater Fire Station for residents and visitors, by splitting the cost with Cal Fire. The station is located in a rural area of eastern Santa Clara County, where there has been no fire and emergency services for half the year. Beyond providing service to residents, the station will protect the thousands of visitors who travel scenic Highway 130 in cars, on motorcycles and on bicycles. There will now be trained emergency medical technicians responding to roadside emergencies year round. Also, with no rain and no real winter for the past five years, any fire east of San Jose could be a huge risk to all of us. The area is also known by many as the route of the Amgen Tour of California, the annual bike race through the state.
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Dave Cortese represents Milpitas, Berryessa and North San Jose on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors.