Outgoing County Board Chairman Anthony Botelho was particularly proud of supervisors’ leadership in finding various ways to raise revenue, including taxes, over the past year.
Botelho spoke when he received a plaque from the county Tuesday for his year as chairman. It’s a rotating role from year to year in which the chairperson leads board meetings. The county board will undoubtedly nominate a new chairman once new supervisors take the oath in several weeks.
Botelho while overseeing his final meeting in the role went over his highlights for the year.
He started off by underscoring the board’s efforts to create new revenue through several avenues, he said.
“First, we placed a number of taxes on the ballot this year,” he said.
“The revenue from this source will help improve the county’s commitment to economic development,” Botelho said.
He talked about the Measure H business license tax for unincorporated areas. Supervisors before the election voted to have the entire county electorate vote on the matter and not just the people the tax affects in the unincorporated areas. He said the new tax will assist the county with zoning compliance and enforcement, while providing revenue for maintenance and other services.
Of course, Botelho heralded the Measure G 1 percent sales tax to raise funds for road improvements. He said it makes San Benito a “self-help” county, allowing the potential leveraging of additional funds.
He also mentioned how the county in 2018 reviewed and updated its fee structure to ensure it has cost recovery for services.
For economic development, he said the county is in the process of implementing zoning changes in the commercial nodes on the Highway 101 corridor through the area. He said that should attract businesses, create jobs and bring in more revenue. He said that should happen this coming year and he’s hoping the county sees applications soon after.
Botelho recalled several “big projects” from 2018. He was especially proud of the multi-agency Nash Road safety project near the high school. It involved closing a portion of Nash Road where students congregate and creating a bypass around the campus for drivers. He’s also excited to see prospects for a regional park there, he said.
Some of the big contract renewals included those with Recology for waste pickup and the Hollister Fire Department for fire responses. He said he knows there’s frustration with waste pickup bills but he attributed price increases to state mandates for diversion of waste out of landfills.
He’s also looking ahead to completion of the jail expansion project next year and pointed to the county’s new energy program for government properties. County leaders hope the $8 million cost is paid for by future savings from using solar and other energy-saving equipment.
Botelho credited two top county officials in particular, Resource Management Agency Director John Guertin for keeping county bridge projects on track, with construction starting soon on some, and Health and Human Services Director Jim Rydingsword and his staff for “making a difference in lives for some of our homeless citizens.”
Photo Caption: Supervisor Anthony Botelho joins Dr. Gail Newel, the public health officer, at a ribbon cutting for the new public health location on Tres Pinos Road in May, 2018.