After tentatively allocating more than $42 million in Measure A sales tax money for the next two fiscal years, county supervisors are ready to tackle two big-ticket items seeking a piece of the annual $64 million revenue.
The Board of Supervisors Tuesday will consider $11.5 million for seismic upgrades at private Seton Medical Center in Daly City and $10 million for subsidized paratransit through the San Mateo County Transit District. The Seton request in particular was one of the possible funding recipients mentioned on the November 2012 ballot seeking the half-cent sales tax increase which is why board President Don Horsley said county residents shouldn’t balk at the request.
“I think we made it pretty clear in the election process that we want to make sure all hospitals are seismically safe and it would probably receive substantial assistance from the county. We were pretty transparent and I think we made our case to the 65 percent of voters who approved it,” Horsley said.
Even if the Board of Supervisors tentatively approve the proposals, it must still formally adopt the plans this fall after all requests are vetted.
The Seton agreement is for Oct. 1, 2013 through June 30, 2014 and facilitated through low-income insurance provider Health Plan San Mateo. In exchange for the money, Seton agrees to continue providing safety net services at current levels and use no less than $2 million on the state-mandated seismic fixes.
Seton will also be required to hire a consultant to create a strategic business plan which the county will fund half of up to $500,000. Once the plan is done, the county and Seton can work on a longer-term arrangement.
The SamTrans subsidy is split between the next two fiscal years to help it support paratransit which is federally required but not funded.
According to SamTrans, 41 percent of its riders have incomes below $25,000 and 21 percent are elderly or disabled.
Despite a $124 million operating budget, the agency struggles with a budget shortfall. Although the $5 million annual request is smaller than SamTrans’ funding problem, the amount “will be of significant assistance” toward interim stability, County Manager John Maltbie wrote in a report to the Board of Supervisors.
At the same hearing, the board will hear presentations on requests of $80,000 in fiscal year 2013-2014 and $75,500 in fiscal year 2014-2015 for a countywide bicycle and pedestrian coordinator position.
Another request by the Health System is more than $4 million to provide alternatives to jail for adults with mental illness and/or substance abuse. Those options include an outreach team and creation of a 10-bed Mental Health Respite Center where a situation can be de-escalated and a family given a break.
The remaining requests are $100,000 for veterans services and $30,000 to fund a coastside disaster response coordinator.
The allocations already tentatively made by the Board of Supervisors include money for county fire vehicle replacement, universal preschool, summer library reading programs and library capital needs, a coastside mobile health clinic, homeless outreach and re-establishing a stand-alone Parks Department.
The Board of Supervisors meets 9 a.m. July 23 in Board Chambers, 400 County Government Center, Redwood City.
(650) 344-5200 ext. 102