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Decision Looms How To Spend $10.6-million In Recovery Funds

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Sonora, CA — A majority of those attending a recent Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors public hearing overwhelming argued that unexpected money coming from the American Rescue Plan should be used to boost law enforcement efforts.

It was brought up multiple times by members of the public at the meeting held last week. No action was taken at the time, as it was more of a listening session for the supervisors. The $10.6-million must be spent over the next three years.

Asked for his response to the feedback, Sheriff Bill Pooley tells Clarke Broadcasting, “To me, it clearly shows that the community’s priority is public safety, and they support law enforcement. Crime is up 23-percent in the first half of this year. They understand that we only have four deputies per shift, and they want more law enforcement in our community.”

Sheriff Pooley argues that the county is at the bottom when it comes to the average salary paid to deputies in comparison to other agencies in this part of the state, so recruiting is a big challenge. He anticipates losing more deputies because of this over the coming months.

Noting, “The types of crimes that we are having in our community right now, it usually takes two or three cars to respond to a shooting, or a stabbing, and those types of things. That can leave the entire rest of our community unprotected, and that is not satisfactory.”

A challenge for the board of supervisors is that the $10.6-million in federal recovery money is non-reoccurring, so once it runs out in a few years, the county would need to find additional money to keep any new positions, or salary increases, afloat.

The board has scheduled another 1:30pm discussion at Tuesday’s upcoming meeting to have more talk about the revenue, and likely deliver direction to staff on how to move forward. It will likely be used for various efforts.

Board Chair Ryan Campbell stated, “The main takeaway for the community should be that this is a very positive thing. We have a phenomenal, once in a 25-year opportunity, to really move the county forward in a positive direction, and I am so grateful to be part of that discussion.”

Cautioning though, “$10.6-million dollars sounds like a lot of money, and it is, but it is nowhere near the amount of money it would take to solve all of the long-standing systemic problems that we have in the county. So, there will be a balancing act to perform.”

Various ideas are likely to be discussed as all of the county departments have different needs.

Also at Tuesday’s board meeting, there will be a 9am presentation from Public Health on the coronavirus, and later there will be a closed session related to labor negotiations.