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Sales tax money may upgrade county IT, build new facilities
August 05, 2013, 05:00 AM By Michelle Durand Daily Journal

Paper towels are out and electric vehicle charging stations are in at some county offices under part of the proposals to address deferred maintenance and improve infrastructure using Measure A half-cent sales tax revenue.

The two presentations scheduled for Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors include some big ticket items — $6 million to upgrade wired and wireless networks, $16.25 million to build a new emergency dispatch center, $6 million for a new Pescadero fire station and $460,000 to improve government transparency and accountability.

Measure A was approved by voters last fall and the half-cent sales tax is estimated to bring in approximately $60 million annually for the next 10 years. County supervisors have spent the past several months hearing presentations on possible uses and, after making tentative decisions on the requests, will take a final vote this fall.

The two batches up next focus on infrastructure, both facilities and network.

But the list also includes $35,000 to install 14 Air Blade hand dryers in some county office rest rooms and $105,000 to purchase and install seven electric vehicle charging stations. The maintenance costs of the hand dryers is expected to be offset by not needing to buy and stock paper towels. The charging stations will include four at the county center available for a fee, two at the Health Campus in San Mateo and one in the Tower Road motor pool area.

Aside from these two sustainability projects, the Board of Supervisors will also consider proposals that help the county play catch-up on hundreds of millions of dollars in long-deferred infrastructure needs.

The new emergency operations center proposed for the current juror parking lot on the corner of Veterans Boulevard and Middlefield Road would move several services like dispatch and a sheriff’s substation into a seismically safe building. The $16.25 million price tag includes $250,000 of new furniture but not the cost of moving departments or providing more juror parking.

Another $6 million is requested for a new 7,880-square-foot fire station east of Butano Creek in Pescadero to protect it from annual flood threats that cause mold and plumbing backups.

The county also wants to replace the Cordilleras Mental Health Facility but is only seeking $250,000 now to develop a financing plan for the 117-bed locked psychiatric facility. The building, designed for tuberculosis patients, is falling apart and doesn’t meet current practices of keeping the seriously mentally ill in a more home-like setting than large institution. If the replacement facility has small buildings, it could qualify for federal reimbursement up to 50 percent.

Although Measure A funding is recommended for only these four projects, County Manager John Maltbie is also asking the supervisors to consider a list of others in the county’s five-year facilities capital plan. The projects include an $11 million new public health lab, a $20 million animal shelter at Coyote Point, $4 million annually to tackle a backlog of deferred public works maintenance and $15 million to renovate 455 County Center.

On Tuesday, supervisors will also consider enhancing its communication network system to support more traffic and new technology like cloud computing and public Wi-Fi access. The existing network is “a very small road in very poor condition” to transport all the necessary technology, Maltbie wrote in a report to the board.

Once completed, the core network speed is projected to switch from 10G to 100G and the number of Wi-Fi access sites go from the 50 existing spots to 300.

More than $43 million in Measure A funds have been tentatively approved for fiscal year 2013-2014 and $25.1 million for the year after. Those allocations 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 totals also include $11.5 million for Seton Medical Center and $10 million for the San Mateo County Transit District.

The Board of Supervisors meets 9 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 6 in Board Chambers, 400 County Government Center, Redwood City.

michelle@smdailyjournal.com

(650) 344-5200 ext. 102

 

 

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