In an advisory committee’s first assessment of how Contra Costa County should spend an expected sales tax windfall of at least $81 million annually over 20 years, county supervisors unanimously accepted the findings but sought more specifications before allocating $20,000 for a formally-written report.
Supervisors asked the Measure X community advisory board to report again at the supervisors’ Nov. 2 meeting, when they would again formally consider the $20,000 request.
“Let’s take this body of work and help us move forward without having to go through it again,” said District 4 Supervisor Karen Mitchoff.
Measure X is a half-cent sales tax that was approved by county voters in 2020. The money started accruing in April, the same month the county’s advisory board began meeting.
The stated purpose of Measure X was to keep “Contra Costa’s regional hospital open and staffed, fund community health centers, provide timely emergency response, support critical safety-net services, invest in early childhood services, protect vulnerable populations and for other essential services.”
The 17-member advisory board (with 10 alternates) has met more than two dozen times the past six months. Its first report back to supervisors recommended five funding priorities for Measure X funds in fiscal 2021-22.
The first goal is “mental well-being,” providing grants for childhood mental health services, substance abuse treatment, greater mental health services for the Asian American Pacific Islander community and the LGBTQ community, and more medical response to mental health crises.
The second goal prioritizes equity and removing barriers causing poverty, with a county office of racial equity and social justice being a major component. It also includes more representation for immigrant residents, more community and school-based arts programs, an innovation fund to facilitate service needs, and asylum support for LGBTQ individuals and immigrants.
The third goal is “Healthy Communities,” including comprehensive health care for the uninsured, a local housing trust fund for tenant legal services and subsidized child care, and community-based food distribution and employment training.
The fourth goal is “Intergenerational Thriving,” which includes strategies for increased service for children with disabilities and more community-based youth and aging centers. The plan will also introduce a guaranteed income pilot program, a master plan on aging and more funding for Child Protective Services and foster youth.
The fifth goal is titled “Welcoming & Safe Community,” which will fund the re-opening of closed East County fire stations and create public defender front-end advocacy teams. It will also provide more money for abuse prevention and support, rental assistance for immigrants and create a “Reimagine Public Safety” initiative.
Additionally, supervisors mentioned other areas of need like code enforcement, increased senior transportation services, more funding for animal services, youth centers and transitional housing for the homeless.