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Another View: Placer County’s problems solvable if we work together

Another View
By: Rocky Rockholm, Placer County supervisor
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Regardless of what district a county supervisor represents, the budget will be the focus in 2010 as we weather the fiscal storm that threatens to cripple county services. There are so many uncertainties facing the county as state legislators grapple with an ever-increasing budget shortfall and they continue to eliminate funding for programs the state requires the county to provide. It is a daunting task to maintain critical services and meet our goal of not laying off employees, keeping as many people, if not all our people, working. At the same time, we need to find long-term solutions to our budget problems rather than a Band-Aid approach that tends to delay difficult decisions and make solutions more elusive. It is clear we can’t tax and spend our way out of the current economic downturn. Nor can we get there through mandatory time off and pay reductions. There are some chronic needs within Supervisorial District 1 that need attention regardless of our economic woes. For example, for public health reasons we need to look for ways to help Dry Creek residents get off of septic and water systems that are susceptible to contamination while maintaining the area’s rural nature. The Walegra Bridge, under water so many times in the past, needs to be replaced at great cost. Similarly, the historic one-lane Cook-Riolo Bridge needs to be replaced to accommodate traffic flows increased in part by traffic to and from Creekview Ranch Middle School. Every supervisorial district has its needs and priorities. We need to involve the entire Placer County community in our decisions. Special districts, municipalities and, most importantly, residents need to work together to explore solutions. There are several neighborhoods in my district that are good examples of how such cooperation can yield impressive results. At neighborhood meetings, residents told officials they were at wit’s end over dilapidated properties, abandoned vehicles and area crime. Some parents didn’t feel comfortable letting their children play in their yards. Residents told officials what they believed needed to be done to put their neighborhoods on the path to recovery. Before long, several city and county departments (Placer County Sheriff’s, Placer County Probation, Roseville Police, and Roseville Environmental departments) joined and supported the neighborhood-driven effort, focusing on actions the residents had proposed. That was over 15 years ago. Today, children play safely in those neighborhoods and families walk the streets. We listened to the residents and we fixed the problem. And guess what? We haven’t had to fix it again. I believe the same model can be used to improve our local economy and our county budget. A lot of talented and intelligent people call Placer County their home, and with their help I believe we can find solutions that might otherwise never surface. Our budget is an open book, available at all county libraries and online on the county Web site (under the auditor-controlled tab). Residents reviewing the budget might see potential savings that have escaped us. There have been many successes in District 1 in recent years and more loom on the horizon. A new firehouse is planned for Placer Vineyards, a new county animal shelter is being planned; many traffic calming projects have been implemented as have increased law enforcement patrols. Placer Vineyards is on track again, thanks to a favorable court decision denying environmental litigants the right to obstruct progress. A fair and effective compromise was reached allowing 14,000 rather than 21,000 homes in the development and paving the way for the much-needed Placer County Conservation Plan to move forward. I believe opportunities dwell within challenges if we look hard enough. Placer County’s economic predicament is no exception. Working together, we can find solutions. Supervisor F. C. “Rocky” Rockholm was elected to the Placer County Board of Supervisors in November 2006. He represents portions of Roseville.