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State of Placer County roads, bridges, buildings getting closer look

Funding, new committee intends to tackle high-priority infrastructure projects
By: Journal Staff Report
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AUBURN CA - Placer County is taking new steps toward identifying and funding high-priority infrastructure projects. At the end of the two-day budget workshop this month, Board of Supervisors members directed staff to set aside $2.2 million in unallocated funding for one-time infrastructure priorities. That follows a board decision June 5 as part of this year’s $690.1-million budget discussions to earmark $4.5 million for capital projects. The $6.7 million total is still down markedly from pre-economic downturn contributions to the fund. In 2007-08, the county capital projects fund received $18.7 million. As part of infrastructure planning, a newly formed county infrastructure-investment panel will develop a plan to examine and prioritize demands in a variety of areas, including roads, bridges, buildings, open space, sewer facilities, information technology and fire facilities. The committee is charged with identifying projects with economic-development benefits to the community. In a second budget move, supervisors decided to devote the rest of the county’s $4.2 million in unallocated discretionary funding to the reserve fund. The fund provides a safety valve to help the county with unanticipated, emergency expenditures. Holly Heinzen, chief assistant county executive officer, said investment in county infrastructure has declined over the past six years. “We think, to be sustainable, we need to continue our infrastructure investments to ensure that they don’t erode and that the investments we make continue to serve the county for many, many years,” Heinzen said. The infrastructure plan’s goals include identifying expenditures that could promote economic development on county-owned land at the Placer County Government Center in North Auburn. Land at the site, formerly known as DeWitt Center, is being eyed for a Costco project and already houses a Home Depot. The guidance from the board on unallocated funds will be rolled into a proposed final budget that is slated to be adopted Sept. 25.