The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors approved most of the recommendations on how to spend initial Measure X funding, but couldn’t agree on funding extra sheriff’s patrols in unincorporated areas or immediate one-time funding for most of the recommended capital projects.

Supervisors John Gioia and Federal Glover rejected the patrols, which required at least four of the five members’ approval. Glover said he wanted the proposal to wait to go through the regular general funding process.

Measure X sales tax revenue is projected to be more than $238 million through the end of fiscal 2022-23.

Among the capital projects the board approved at its Nov. 16 meeting is the $5 million, 3,000 square feet of expansion to the county’s psychiatric emergency services department.

Other proposed infrastructure projects — including a $30 million expansion of Contra Costa County Regional Medical Center’s clinic and office space, $15 million for a new parking structure and $25 million for a new public health laboratory — were put on hold at Gioia’s request until the board gets more details from the county health department.

Gioia also voted against a motion to fund body cameras for the sheriff’s department, which passed 4-1.

The board also unanimously changed the recommended amount of Measure X money set aside for reserve, from 25 percent to 20 percent.

Pushback on sheriff funding

The meeting was long and sometimes contentious, with funding for the sheriff’s department met with resistance during public comment. Board chair Diane Burgis, who represents District 4 in much of unincorporated East County, reminded everyone that if put together, the population of unincorporated areas would make the largest city in Contra Costa.

“A lot of people were upset about giving money to the sheriff,” Burgis said. “We’re not giving money to the sheriff. We are giving services to communities that are not well resourced. These are communities in unincorporated areas that pay additional tax to have additional deputies. But there are poorer communities that don’t have the revenues to pay for law enforcement. And those are folks that need services when they need them.”

Measure X is a half-cent sales tax approved by Contra Costa voters in 2020. The money began accruing in April, when the county’s Measure X advisory board began meeting.

The ballot measure’s stated purpose was to keep “Contra Costa’s regional hospital open and staffed, fund community health centers, emergency response, support critical safety-net services, invest in early childhood services, protect vulnerable populations and for other essential county services.”

“A lot of people were upset about giving money to the sheriff. We’re not giving money to the sheriff. We are giving services to … poorer communities that don’t have the revenues to pay for law enforcement. And those are folks that need services when they need them.”

Supervisor Diane Burgis

The 17-member advisory board (with 10 alternates) met 25 times this year and received more than $350 million in funding requests.

After hearing supervisors weigh in at the board’s Oct. 12 meeting, the commission recommended five general priorities: mental well-being, equity in action, healthy communities, intergenerational thriving and providing a welcoming and safe community. Dollar amounts were calculated by county staff.

The committee also listed re-opening East County fire stations as a priority, for which staff said the board should allot $17.2 million. Recommendations also included $10 million for youth centers in east and central counties and another $5 million toward Contra Costa’s community crisis initiative.

During the first year of ongoing Measure X funding (April 1, 2022 through June 30, 2023) $40 million will go to Contra Costa Regional Medical Center and $10 million for the local housing trust fund, including funding for homeless housing and services. Other priorities include $4.5 million for wildfire mitigation, $3.5 million to re-open and staff county fire stations, and $2.5 million for climate sustainability projects.