Tuolumne County Pushing For Local Control Of Phases To Lift COVID-19 Restrictions
Sonora, CA – Tuolumne County leaders say they are reaching out to the feds and state officials both for funding, and also control in the process of lifting COVID-19 restrictions.
CAO Tracie Riggs tells Clarke Broadcasting that her office and the board of supervisors have been hearing from concerned citizens regarding the restrictions. She admits, “We have not been good about giving that information out in a way that our local residents know that we are advocating.”
In their continuing efforts, two different letters went out Friday: one to federal leaders and another to state officials.
With the county facing a $6 to 7-million shortfall next fiscal year, as recently reported here, Riggs relays that one was sent to federal legislators pushing for funding that would backfill the loss of local revenues.
“What has been approved so far is only revenues that are directly related to COVID-19,” details Riggs. “What we really need is very flexible funding that would allow us to backfill the last TOT (Transient Occupancy Tax) and Sales Tax Revenues.”
The second letter is to Governor Gavin Newsom and the state’s public health officer. Riggs explains, “What it is doing is asking them to consider each of the counties, at either a regional level, or each as its own jurisdiction, to begin allowing us to move into different phases as we see appropriate.” It also asks to be allowed to waive property tax delinquencies caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Additionally, the letter advises that the county has the needed testing abilities and explains how the county can meet the state’s six criteria for easing the COVID-19 restrictions while advocating for local jurisdictions to put plans in place that they deem appropriate for reopening.
Regarding recent talks with the governor and whether he is receptive to this idea, Riggs expresses, “I think that the governor is closer now than he has been. He is definitely understanding that there are places such as the Bay Area that could be in lockdown until the middle or late June. Whereas you have places like ours that have no community transmission and only two confirmed cases per one hundred thousand, and our rates are so low.”
However, she relays the governor has stated that he is waiting to see the number of confirmed cases level off before giving a directive to rural communities.