The fate of the deferred-maintenance ordinance proposed by 4th District Supervisor Peter Adam (pictured) was unanimously delayed to February, as the supervisors on Tuesday requested that county staff further analyze the proposal and compare what it would mean for the county’s finances if it becomes law versus if it doesn’t. The supervisors could have adopted the ordinance or placed it on the June ballot, but instead decided they needed more information before choosing between those two options.
Adam, who moved forward with his plan after he failed to garner enough support to tackle the county’s deferred-maintenance backlog — estimated at $250 million for county roads, $30 million for county buildings, and $20 million for parks — at the June budget talks, said, “We have to do our annual maintenance. We have to stop ignoring the maintenance.”
If Adam’s ordinance were to be either adopted by the county or approved by the voters, it would require the department heads of Public Works, Parks, and General Services to inform the CEO every year on how best to maintain the infrastructure’s current conditions. The CEO would have to likewise inform the supervisors, who would have to make sure those conditions are upheld or improved. The board would be prohibited from incurring debt to ease the backlog.
Although Adam’s colleagues congratulated him on getting nearly 16,000 valid signatures for the proposal to be eligible for consideration — 13,201 were required — they also said they needed some questions answered before making a decision. Third District Supervisor Doreen Farr expressed concerns with how the baseline quality will be measured and whether the no-debt stipulation would simply shift debt to other services. Several supervisors have previously argued against prioritizing deferred maintenance, stressing the need to balance that with other services and hesitating to eat into the county’s $29 million rainy-day fund to help solve the problem. The board will receive the analysis, and also consider possible ballot language, at its February 4 meeting.