"Encumbering the General Fund with yet another expensive obligation is unwise until the supervisors have approved a long-term plan to address the ongoing crisis concerning the repair and maintenance of county roads," the press release states.
The detention center and probation facility being considered by the county would cost $65 million, financed mostly by state funds. But it would require about $10 million each year to operate, and Save Our Sonoma Roads says that money should be spent improving local roadways instead.
In 2011, the Bay Area Metropolitan Transportation Commission ranked Sonoma County roads second-worst in the region, and Healdsburg's fell into the "fair" category. Sonoma County roads received a Pavement Condition Index of 45 out of 100, while Healdsburg received a 63 out of 100.
The full statement from Save Our Sonoma Roads follows:
Save Our Sonoma Roads (SOSroads) cautions the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors against approving the Community Corrections Center as proposed by Sonoma County law enforcement officials.
Law enforcement estimates that running the Community Corrections Center will cost an additional $11.5 million of general funds each year when it opens. Such estimates are always lower than actual costs.
Encumbering the General Fund with yet another expensive obligation is unwise until the supervisors have approved a long-term plan to address the ongoing crisis concerning the repair and maintenance of county roads. A draft plan is expected later this year.
In June 2012 the board of supervisors concluded that 53% of county roads need reconstruction and 751 of Sonoma County’s 1,283 road miles are failed or in poor condition. Roads conditions were exacerbated by decisions that reduced funding by two-thirds, adjusted for inflation, from 1990 levels. While SOSroads congratulates the county for recent decisions to bolster funding and for improving 67 miles of county roads (5% of the system) there is no plan for such improvements to continue.
SOSroads believes that the level of support from the county’s General Fund should be remain at least at the $15 million level of the past two fiscal years. The descent of our county roads toward primitive dirt and gravel conditions can be attributed to a cumulative decline of $120 million in county funding from 1990 to 2011.
San Joaquin County, which is burdened with Stockton’s bankruptcy problems, has declined to build a similar facility. Perhaps San Joaquin County achieves a pavement condition index of 65 for its county roads (Sonoma County’s PCI is in the low 40s and among the worst in California) because its supervisors are more disciplined in setting funding priorities.
It has been suggested that the public will need to approve new taxes to solve our road problems. If General Funds now spent on roads are diverted to an expensive new Community Corrections Center, the public may lose confidence that the supervisors are serious about addressing the road issue. Perhaps it is time to redirect the conversation and ask the public if it wishes to raise taxes to support a new corrections center.
SOSroads.org is an all-volunteer Sonoma County-wide citizens’ group formed to advocate for an improved allocation of public funds to roads. Learn more about Sonoma County roads at SOSroads.org.