Sunday, April 22, 2018     Volume: 19, Issue: 7

Santa Maria Sun / Letter To The Editor

The following article was posted on March 14th, 2017, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 18, Issue 2 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 18, Issue 2

A budget crisis is coming

By Jon Simon - Solvang

There is a looming crisis coming to Santa Barbara County. Forecasters are predicting low county revenue to affect many county departments for several years to come. County financial officers are stating high personnel costs are the main factor among other issues.

The Board of Supervisors are going to have to make serious decisions on what to fund and what to cut. As a recently retired 30-plus year employee of the county, I tried to sit down with Janet Wolf and Steve Lavagnino to educate them on out-of-control costs within the Air Unit. Janet returned my email request with, “I will not be meeting with you.” Steve echoed her email.

The county Board of Supervisors does not care about county waste or saving money or any concerns from individuals who know what is going on. These current board members believe your tax money is an open checkbook. If they had met with me, they would have learned that Santa Barbara County Fire’s Helicopter 308 has cost taxpayers $800,000 in the last five years due to extremely poor maintenance prior to the Sheriff’s Office taking possession of it. It has consumed 40 percent of the maintenance budget and only flew 15 percent of the calls in those five years.

Since the Sheriff’s Office took over the unit, one of the stipulations was that the office had to take 308 as part of the deal. Every member of the unit refused to fly this aircraft until it was repaired. Today, that same aircraft has been sitting in the hangar for the last 10 months and hasn’t flown due to its deteriorating condition. In the very near future, county fire and the sheriff will be standing in front of the supervisors asking for another nearly $200,000 to send this aircraft out for repairs. Within the next year or two they will have to ask for another $350,000 for an engine overhaul. It’s time to stop wasting taxpayer funds on an aircraft that rarely flies and is not needed. The unit will still have two water-dropping aircraft to fight fires. So my question to the Board of Supervisors is: Which department, which program, or whom are you going to cut to sink another $500,000 into this flying trashcan?

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