Supes to discuss plan to reopen county, budget

Los Angeles County Seal.
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The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is set to introduce motions to lay the groundwork for safely reopening the county at Tuesday’s meeting.

“I know all of us are eager to return and get some sense of normality,” said Supervisor Kathryn Barger of the 5th District, which includes the Santa Clarita Valley. “We are committed to move Los Angeles County toward these goals, and I know the most important role of the Board of Supervisors is to focus on restoring the local economy.”

Filed by Barger and Supervisor Hilda Solis, both measures are expected to create plans for relaxing restrictions of the stay-at-home directive that is set to expire May 15.

The first motion directs the county’s Department of Public Health, Department of Health Services, Department of Mental Health and any other appropriate departments to provide the Board of Supervisors with a report within seven days that details measures needed for containment of COVID-19 and prerequisites for relaxing the order.

This motion also requests a plan be developed to engage the business community and labor partners on these plans, allowing for input and any preparations that need to be made for reopening.

More than 3.1 million Californians filed for unemployment benefits over the course of the last month, surpassing the total claims in all of 2008 at the start of the Great Recession, per the motion.

That being said, the second motion would convene an “economic resiliency task force” to develop recommendations for the county to leverage public-private partnerships to improve the economy, create jobs and return to full employment.

This task force would consist of Barger and Solis, as well as representatives of each relevant department, cities, and leaders from industry, labor and the business community, including chambers of commerce and business organizations.

“We are all learning new ways in conducting business, (so) I want to encourage innovative ideas from county employees, businesses and labor partners,” Barger added. “This will help us streamline contracting, identify cost-saving ideas and work with less revenue.”

Leaders from the Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corp., as well as the San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership, Los Angeles Economic Development Corp., The Valley Economic Alliance in San Fernando and Long Beach Economic Partnership, submitted a letter to the Board of Supervisors in support of these motions.

“Above all, we respectfully urge the county to act quickly to establish clear, seamless and uniform protocols, which don’t differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction within the county, that enable businesses to safely re-employ their workers and place L.A. County’s economy and workforce on the road to recovery, reinvention, resilience and resurgence,” the letter read.

The letter went on to provide the Board of Supervisors with recommendations on the steps necessary to quickly reopen the economy, which include near-term, phased steps for reopening, ongoing measures for job recovery and post-recovery socioeconomic resurgence and renaissance.

L.A. County Chief Executive Officer Sachi A. Hamai has also released the county’s 2020-21 recommended budget, a $35.5 billion spending plan expected to undergo extensive changes as it was drafted before the current health crisis.

The county expects an estimated $1 billion drop in revenues as it concludes the current fiscal year, and anticipates an additional $1 billion-plus revenue decline in 2020-21 — shortfalls that, when combined with the increased COVID-19 spending, will shape the budget.

As it stands, the recommended budget includes a significant emphasis on health and mental health programs, as well as funding for the development and preservation of affordable housing, additional aid for vulnerable seniors and foster care, and efforts to combat and prevent homelessness.

This budget is set to go before the Board of Supervisors during the meeting, with adoption of the budget by the end of June and final budget scheduled for the end of September.

The Board of Supervisors meeting is scheduled 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday. For more information, visit bos.lacounty.gov

To view all coronavirus-related stories, visit signalscv.com/category/news/coronavirus.

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