During Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, the board discussed a measure that will appear on the November 2022 ballot to bring more funding into the unincorporated areas of Kern.
The proposed measure will be titled the “Unincorporated Kern County Public Safety/Vital Services/Local Control Measure” and the goal of it will be to maintain vital local services such as law enforcement, fire, medical emergency 911 response, and crime prevention. Funds gained from this measure will also be used to recruit and retain firefights and sheriff deputies, attract industries and jobs, address mental health and addiction challenges, along with general government use.
If the measure is adopted, it will provide Kern’s unincorporated areas with approximately $54 million annually until the measure is ended by voters.
In order to gauge the communities needs, the county administrative office conducted surveys whose results revealed that the community wanted the following prioritized:
- Maintaining public safety.
- Retaining and attracting local business and jobs.
- Helping address mental health/addiction challenges.
- Repairing roads.
- Supporting veteran services.
- Helping address homelessness.
- Economic development.
- Cleaning up the community.
Public comments were allowed following the presentation on the measure, where various community members were able to express their opinions on the measure.
While many Kern inhabitants like Sheriff Donny Youngblood, District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer, businessmen and law enforcement workers professed their support of the measure, other residents like Emma de la Rosa, a Regional Policy Manager with the Leadership and Advocacy Council for Justice and Accountability, pointed out that many residents living in their unincorporated areas are already disadvantaged and living in poverty.
“As taxpayers in the community, residents long to see investments in their neighborhoods for the betterment of their families and communities. Moreover, folks we work with are impacted by the oil and gas industry — having to breathe polluted air and contaminated water. While many folks rely on the agriculture industry as their main source of income, it is not without its sacrifices,” de la Rosa stated. “Farm workers risk their health and their life working in the fields of pesticides and working during high temperatures and seasonal fires.”
De la Rosa urged the Board of Supervisors to consider the economic impact a measure like this will have on these disadvantaged communities in the unincorporated areas of Kern County. She also pointed out that despite this measure being listed as a general service tax, most funds will go straight towards law enforcement and the DEA office.
The measure’s proposal was approved 4-1 by the Board of Supervisors, with Supervisor David Couch being the only one to vote against the measure.
The measure can only be voted on by Kern residents living in unincorporated areas and 100% of the funds collected from this one percent sales tax will stay local.
Kern County’s unincorporated areas are:
- Aerial Acres
- Alta Sierra
- Blackwells Corner
- Cache Creek
- China Lake
- Desert Lake
- Di Giorgio
- Goler Heights
- Hights Corner
- Indian Wells
- Minter Village
- Miracle Hot Springs
- Missouri Triangle
- Oil City
- Old River
- Old Town
- Pine Mountain Club
- Pumpkin Center
- Rio Bravo
- Twin Oaks
- Wheeler Ridge
- Willow Springs
- Wonder Acres