Stanislaus County District 2 Supervisor Vito Chiesa shares his views on 2011, 2012:
Journal: What successes did Stanislaus County have in 2011?
Chiesa: Success is measured incrementally in these times, Chiesa said, listing the following successes:The Kenwood Lighting District was established, providing much-needed infrastructure to a small county island within Turlock city limits;Completed the Stanislaus County Animal Shelter, and established a Joint Powers Authority to operate the facility;Broke ground on the new Juvenile Justice Facility;Balanced the budget, and passed pension reform measures for new hires; andEstablished a Regional Fire Authority, uniting the Modesto, Salida, and county fire departments.
Journal: If you could change one thing from 2011, what would it be?
Chiesa: I would like to have seen the county’s unemployment rate decrease and our economy recovery more rapidly through new job creation.
Journal: What major projects await Stanislaus County in 2012?
Chiesa: A self-funded health insurance model called “Stanislaus County Partners in Health;” AB 900 — application for jail construction, which would expand and replace the current facility; and a new coroner’s facility, remodeling the old building, saving money.
Journal: If you could accomplish one realistic objective in 2012, what would it be?
Chiesa: The “Negative Bailout” Bill. (The bill would work to reverse state tax policy which sees the state reapportion tax dollars from counties which were well off when Prop 13 was passed in 1978, to counties which were in debt at that time. Stanislaus County, which was financially sound in 1978, loses $3 million in tax revenues annually.) We were so close to resolving this long-standing fairness issue during budget negotiations. Correcting this one issue would help keep millions of general fund dollars in Stanislaus County.
Journal: What significant hurdles do you see Stanislaus County facing in 2012?
Chiesa: Public Safety Realignment will be a significant challenge if a constitutionally protected funding source is not established. Also, we see continued growth in the need for social services within our communities. Keeping up with the need for assistance on an ever-tightening budget remains a financial challenge.
Journal: Do you anticipate budget cuts in 2012?
Chiesa: Yes, but not to the magnitude of the previous two years. Our organization is blessed with great employees that understand the fiscal challenges and continually step-up to help.
Journal: In one sentence, summarize your outlook for 2012.
Chiesa: Cautiously optimistic that we have hit bottom, and there are better times ahead.