Friday, July 25, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

County budget covers roads to open space

By
From page A1 | June 26, 2014 |

FAIRFIELD — Solano County’s 400-plus-page budget for the 2014-15 fiscal year beginning in July has all sorts of spending items tucked in it, from buying open space to improving the Travis Air Force Base southern gateway.

The Board of Supervisors adopted the $857 million budget Monday after a five-hour-plus hearing. By next summer, local residents could see a number of things happen under the new spending plan.

Solano County has budgeted $2.5 million to buy land in the hills between Fairfield and Vallejo. This is money from a 2005 federal earmark secured for the area by Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez.

Once the county buys land, it would turn it over to the Solano Land Trust to be maintained as open space with public access, county Engineering Manager Matt Tuggle said Wednesday.

Another county project is spending $2 million to improve access to the south gate of Travis Air Force Base. The county will add a stacking lane on Petersen Road near Suisun City so that trucks entering the base no longer back up in long lines along the road.

The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved spending $42,600 to buy the needed right of way. Construction could begin in spring 2015.

The Solano County Sheriff’s Office portion of the budget mentioned the difficulty to attract and retain dispatchers for the Sheriff’s Dispatch Center.

Sheriff Thomas Ferrara elaborated during Monday’s budget hearing at the request of Supervisor Erin Hannigan. The dispatch center serves the Sheriff’s Office, Rio Vista Police Department, Dixon Police Department and nine fire agencies, he said.

“That is probably the hardest position to fill,” Ferrara said. “If any of you have been in the dispatch center, they’re doing 15 things at one time.”

Training a dispatcher takes eight months, Ferrara said. The county has two or three vacancies.

“I wish I could give you a quick answer on what I could do, what you could do, to fix it,” Ferrara told supervisors.

Hannigan brought up the idea of consolidating dispatch centers in the county. It’s an idea that’s been around years. Hannigan said she would like to see at least some baby steps forward.

Solano County is just about finished building the $89 million, 362-bed Claybank Jail expansion, which is called the Stanton Correctional Facility. The budget says that the Sheriff’s Office is exploring the possibility of contracting out empty jail space to other counties that have overcrowded jails.

The county budget also addresses the effort to decommission the Fouts Springs Youth Facility in the Mendocino National Forest. Solano County closed Fouts Springs in 2011 after using it for 52 years as a facility for juvenile delinquents.

For this coming fiscal year, the county has budgeted $1.7 million to finish decommissioning the youth facility and turn the leased land back over to the U.S. Forest Service. That includes demolishing the buildings and restoring land.

Maintaining and securing the facility while awaiting decommissioning will cost about $104,000, the budget said. The general fund must bear the cost since state and federal grants for Fouts Springs ceased when the youth facility closed.

Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or beberling@dailyrepublic.net. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling has been a reporter with the Daily Republic since 1987. He covers Solano County government, transportation, growth and the environment. He received his bachelors of art degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara and his masters degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley.
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