Solano County budget, construction could take a hit due to Covid-19

Solano County looks to spend $36M on facility projects in 2020-21, but Covid-19 lurks

The grandstands at the Solano County Fairgrounds are demolished, Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018. The site was formerly a racehorse track. (Robinson Kuntz/Daily Republic file)
By Todd R. Hansen, Daily Republic, March 27, 2020

FAIRFIELD — Solano County has substantially completed nearly $12.2 million in facility projects this fiscal year, expects another $8.98 million to be done by June 30 and will carry over $19.9 million in identified projects during fiscal year 2020-21.

Another $15.99 million in new 2020-21 projects are proposed, the Board of Supervisors were told this week. The board conducted a public hearing, without comment, and adopted the updated five-year Capital Facilities Improvement Plan.

The full five-year plan – from this current fiscal year to 2023-24 – identifies $72.42 million in projects. Of that total, $19.9 million is funded, another $15.99 million in projects are identified with proposed funding and there are $36.53 million worth of unfunded projects.

“The adoption of the CFIP does not commit the board to specific funding,” the report states.

Casting a large shadow over the plan – especially with regard to projects relying on local funding – is the impact of Covid-19 on revenues coming into the county.

Supervisor Monica Brown specifically mentioned the $6.3 million for the first half of a 32-bed mental health residential treatment facility. She was assured that funding is a state grant specifically earmarked for the project.

But that may not be the case with all projects.

Auditor-Controller Phyllis Taynton could not be reached for comment about her projections for sales tax and other revenue sources that will likely be negatively affected by the Covid-19 health emergency.

Chuck Lomeli, the treasurer-tax collector-county clerk, is also keeping a close watch on the situation.

“We are expecting a hit. . . . From my perspective, we (the county) are going to get hurt in a lot of ways,” he said.

One of his primary concerns will be to see if residents are able to pay their property taxes, the deadline for which is April 10. The county has announced it will work with residents on waiving penalties if they are late paying because of Covid-19.

Lomeli said he is equally concerned with county residents and their personal incomes. He said based on national statistics he has seen, most households survive paycheck to paycheck, and may be OK after missing one, but if they start missing two or more paychecks, then it could be difficult for them.

Lomeli said he is waiting to see the full $2 trillion stimulus package out of Washington, D.C., and then watch to see how fast the dollars get to where they are intended. Some of the package is supposed to go to cities and counties, some to businesses and there are some funds to go directly to eligible residents.

The county has 54 buildings and sports facilities with more than 2 million square feet of facilities and 133 acres of grounds that are maintained by General Services.

“This does not include regional parks, Solano County fairgrounds, the Nut Tree Airport and corporation yards, which are maintained by other departments or entities,” the report states.

The largest of the 2019-20 projects completed was the nearly $3.87 million fairgrounds demolition project plus $1.2 million for site remediation. Another $1.6 million was spent on mechanical equipment replacement at the Fairfield Civic Center Library; $1.44 million on improvements and renovations at the Vacaville Veterans Hall; and $1.37 million on the Registrar of Voters relocation project.

Projects expected to be completed by the end of this fiscal year include $3.34 million for heating and air improvements at the Animal Care facility, $2.1 million toward the boiler replacement project at the jail complex and $1.39 million toward the generator replacement and underground fuel tank removal at the downtown jail facility.

There are five proposed projects of more than $1 million for 2020-21 fiscal year, including the $6.3 million mental health facility.

Of the full $15.99 million for 21 projects, $6.39 million would come from the county’s Capital Renewal Reserve Fund; $578,000 from the Criminal Justice Temporary Construction Fund; $2.59 million from the Accumulated Capital Outlay Fund; and $6.44 million from other sources such as the state grant for the mental health facility.