Supes temporarily halt Placer County’s $100,000 fund for non-profits

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Spending from a controversial $100,000 fund for non-profits controlled by the Placer County Board of Supervisors is now on hold. Voting 3-2 Tuesday to institute a temporary moratorium, supervisors will be taking a closer look at a fund that is being questioned by Supervisors Jack Duran and Jennifer Montgomery. Duran had asked for a one-year moratorium and Montgomery said she favored doing away with the so-called revenue sharing fund. Supervisors Jim Holmes and Robert Weygandt defended the funding as a positive program for the county. But Supervisor Kirk Uhler said he would agree to a temporary moratorium to consider options ranging from a complete suspension of the program to continuing it with no changes. Uhler described the ongoing discussion as a distraction that should be addressed with a policy discussion as soon as possible. But he made it clear that it would be difficult to convince him to drop revenue sharing from the county budget. “I have no problem with revenue sharing,” Uhler said. “The biggest problem is the distraction it has become – or the distraction some people who should know better have let it become.” Duran agreed to amend his initial request for a one-year moratorium to a more open-ended length of time. County Executive Officer Tom Miller suggested three months but Uhler said he would welcome discussion even sooner if it was possible. Under a revenue-sharing program that Chairman Robert Weygandt said has been in existence in Placer County for 40 years, each supervisor is provided with $20,000 to distribute to non-profits. The board votes on each supervisors’ recommendation but it’s placed on the consent agenda. Montgomery had avoided taking part in revenue-sharing distribution, instead designating her district’s $20,000 for county Health and Human Services programs. Duran, a first-year supervisor , campaigned on a platform that included changes in revenue sharing. At Tuesday’s meeting, Duran said revenue sharing made sense in years when the county had a surplus of revenue. With an uncertain economy, declining revenues, and state funding takeaways, Placer County “simply can’t afford it,” Duran said. “We need to prioritize with the programs we have now,” Duran said. “Most agencies have cut down on spending. I’m calling for a moratorium until we can afford revenue sharing again.” Duran found support from Wally Reemelin, president of the League of Placer County Taxpayers watchdog group. “The county isn’t in good shape financially so what revenue are you sharing?” Reemelin asked the board. “You’re behind the eight-ball and you don’t have revenue to share.” That led Weygandt to tell Reemelin the county “is in excellent health.” Reemelin rejoindered that in a down economy, a revenue-sharing moratorium would demonstrate that the board is concerned with every dollar the county spends. Others spoke against continuing the $100,000 fund, which comes out of tax dollars in the county’s general fund. Lincoln’s Reginald Bronner said that people are describing revenue sharing as a “slush fund.” “It doesn’t go down well,” Bronner said. “If you want to give to charity, give your own money.” Auburn’s Rosalie Wohlfromm said the $100,000 could have helped the county retain a program that provided the poor with permanent rather than temporary fillings. “Last year, you refused to continue the dental program because you said you had no money,” Wohlfromm said. “Couldn’t you have thought of a better place (for the $100,000 revenue-sharing fund)?”