During his remarks at Monday’s changing of the guard, Supervisor Bob Elliott looked back on his year as chairman of the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors. He also submitted an Op-Ed piece to The Record that went into further detail.
While serving as Chairman of the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors this past year, I’ve witnessed many challenges facing our region, as well as tremendous progress and significant achievements. The Board has taken numerous actions over the past year to set San Joaquin County on an exciting path toward continuing financial stability, cutting-edge innovation, and becoming a magnet for economic development and new jobs.
First and foremost, the County’s financial affairs are in order. We achieved a structurally balanced budget for the first time in the past six years. We partially restored the County’s reserve and capital improvement funds by returning $17.4 million to those accounts. We owe it to our taxpayers to manage their money responsibly, and I’m proud to have helped achieve that goal with our 2014-15 budget.
While bringing our financial house under control, we have also worked diligently to become a regional hub for economic development and job creation. Recent activities indicative of improvements in economic opportunities include:
- Docking of the Google Barge at the Port of Stockton;
- Expansion of the Amazon fulfillment center in Tracy to recruit 200 additional employees;
- Tesla’s announcement of a 431,000 square-foot advanced manufacturing facility in Lathrop;
- Groundbreaking for a 1 million square-foot facility at Cordes Ranch in Tracy for Prologis Inc., a global leader in industrial real estate;
- Development progress at River Islands, Austin Road Business Park, Blossom Hill Industrial Park and Mountain House;
- Expansion of services and facilities at Stockton’s Metropolitan Airport, to include adding passenger flights to Phoenix, pursuing options to offer international flights, terminal and runway improvements, and commencing apron reconstruction to accommodate five aircraft rather than one; and
- Expansion of the County’s economic development program that promotes San Joaquin County as “Greater Silicon Valley” to entice expanding companies, as well as entrepreneurs looking to jump-start their businesses, to locate in San Joaquin County.
Another exciting development was the official formation of the Innovation Hub (iHub) San Joaquin program which will promote economic advancements in the County and improve the State’s competitiveness by stimulating partnerships, economic development, and job creation around specific research clusters, such as Health Care, Sustainable Construction, and Agribusiness Technologies.
Regarding the County’s agricultural industry – our number one industry – our 2013 Agricultural Report showed that agriculture had a banner year despite the drought, with gross value of agricultural production reaching another all-time high of nearly $3 billion. We must work closely with the legislature to ensure that this premier industry continues to thrive.
We can’t discuss agriculture without highlighting the Board’s efforts to protect the Delta. San Joaquin, in partnership with the Delta Counties Coalition, has worked tirelessly for the past seven years to educate State policymakers and the Administration about the fatal flaws of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) and its devastating effects on the Delta. Recently, the federal Environmental Protection Agency came to a similar conclusion, stating that the proposed $50 billion tunnel plan would violate federal law.
We’ve also worked extensively to improve Veterans Services. The County continues to aggressively advocate with Congressional and VA representatives in support of Federal funding for the VA Central Valley Clinic and Community Living Center in French Camp. Additionally, the County secured a contract with Triwest allowing the VA to refer Veterans to San Joaquin General Hospital for medical services to alleviate excessive wait and travel times for Valley veterans.
In July, San Joaquin County achieved Federally Qualified Health Center Look-A-Like designation for County Clinics. This designation will provide expected increased revenues of $8.4 million annually, which will allow expansion of clinic services and enhanced access to care for patients, as well as assuring future stability and viability of our County Clinics.
In an effort to strengthen public safety throughout the County, Supervisor Villapudua and I reconvened the City/County Criminal Justice Task Force late last year, and continue to use it to engage elected officials and decision makers in improving our criminal justice system. The Board approved additional staff for the Sheriff and District Attorney. We also upgraded security at both our Honor Farm and the County Jail. Our County Community Corrections Partnership continues to develop methods to effectively manage AB 109 released State prisoners.
An initiative that I’m particularly proud of is our effort to improve openness and transparency in local government. An excellent example of this is the implementation of an OpenGov application on our County website (www.sjgov.org,) which enables individuals to see where their tax dollars are being spent with the click of a button. In addition, we initiated a “Take Government to School Day” by holding a Board of Supervisors meeting at Kimball High School in Tracy, providing students an opportunity to gain an orientation and insight into local government.
It’s truly been a pleasure to serve the County as Chairman of the Board of Supervisors, and to provide highlights of our achievements over the past year. I look forward to working with my colleagues to make continued progress in the coming year.
Byline: Supervisor Bob Elliott is the Chairman of the San Joaquin Board of Supervisors. He is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. He served his country for 30 years in the United States Army, and retired as a Colonel, US Army Special Forces (the Green Berets.) Chairman Elliott was elected to the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors in 2012 and represents the Fifth Supervisorial District, which covers portions of south San Joaquin County, including Tracy, Mountain House, half of Manteca, and a portion of Lathrop.