BAKERSFIELD, CA - Prison realignment, jobs, Animal Control, and capital improvements were just some of the pressing issues addressed at the 'State Of The County' address Wednesday evening.
Supervisor Mike Maggard spoke to hundreds of Kern County business and community leaders. He outlined the county's accomplishments over the last year and highlighted some of the challenges and opportunities we face in 2013.
"Tonight, I think many of us are a bit more optimistic about Kern County than we have been in a long, long time," said Supervisor Maggard.
Maggard started off on a high note, highlighting the gains in employment in Kern County. More than 5,000 private sector jobs from October 2011 to October 2012, including nearly 1,000 from the energy sector. Supervisor Maggard also touted the fact that we are the second best performing metro area in California, according to the Milken Institute.
"Milken ranks metro areas on job growth, wage/salary growth and high tech industries. Among California metro areas, only the Silicon Valley ranked higher," he said. "Nationally, Kern County ranked 19th. Last year, we were 47th, so we are indeed picking up economic steam."
However, Kern County still has work to do in the area of animal control but, with the hiring of new Animal Control Director Jen Woodard, Maggard is optimistic the number of animals euthanized each year will go down.
"The problem starts with irresponsible individuals who abandon their pets, but as these stray animals multiply, it quickly becomes a community problem." he said.
AB-109 is another concern. The county's crime rate has increased with the implementation of prison realignment.
"The prisoner situation with the state sending more prisoners down is going to be a pain in the butt. It's going to be a pain in the butt for a long time," said retired Kern County Sheriff Carl Sparks.
To help with the influx of inmates, the county has earmarked 22 million dollars to help fund a new facility at Lerdo Jail to house an additional 800 inmates this year.
The county is also paving the way for new business by streamlining permitting processes and championing California Environmental Equality Act reform to help bring more business and jobs to the county.
The county has boosted reserves so far to 93 million dollars and the general reserve, alone, has 40 million dollars. This will allow the county to invest in infrastructure and equipment.