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El Observador

Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors voted 4-0 to approve funding through Measure A’s $9.6 million reserve fund for 17 community based groups and organizations, this past Tuesday, April 15, at the Board of Supervisors weekly meeting.

In 2012, county voters approved a one-eighth cent increase in sales tax for the next 10 years, which would raise money to fund county programs. Officials said the measure is estimated to raise $498.6 million over the decade. The county received 92 proposals totaling $45.3 million in funds requested.

“As you can imagine, when you look at the diversity of the proposals, this was a very challenging task for us to really attempt to create a ranked list,” said Chief Operating Officer Gary Graves at Tuesday’s meeting. “The goal was really to identify proposals that really would demonstrate a significant impact on residents throughout the county. We definitely prioritized direct services.” Graves said the staff balanced factors such as age benefactors, geographic location, and types of services provided

After receiving written proposals, and listening to a brief verbal proposal, earlier in the month, staff created a ranked listing of the 92 proposals, giving funding to only the top 17 listed. Graves said, in a county media advisory ,the committee was looking for four main factors in each proposal- 1) Projects that would have a significant impact on residents throughout Santa Clara County; 2) Priority given to direct services over capital projects; 3) a balance of projects that addressed the children, seniors, the homeless and those re-entering the community from institutions in the areas of public safety, health, social services and housing; and 4) whether programs and services had been previously funded by Measure A resources.

After more than 40 public comments from the community, most asking for reconsidering in staff rankings, Supervisor Cindy Chavez motioned to accept recommendation from the staff. 

“The reason why I’m not recommending any changes is that to unwind this now at the board level I think would be very challenging,” said Chavez. “It isn’t to say that  we wouldn’t look in the future at some of the opportunities to fund different proposals. But I don’t think that today, and through this money is the right way, which is why I support the staff recommendation.”

The board voted unanimously 4-0 to uphold the staff recommendation, with Supervisor Dave Cortese abstaining from voting. Cortese was unable to vote on the item due to a conflict of interest, as his wife previously worked for one of the organizations who submitted a proposal for funding. “Although that ended last year in 2013, it’s still within the 12 month window that requires me, under state law, to recluse myself to avoid financial conflict of interest,” said Cortese.

The county projects it will receive $45 million from Measure A sales tax revenue in 2014. A portion of that revenue will be allocated to maintain the current level of county services.

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