Paying the costs of retiree health care is a mounting financial challenge for both public and private entities. We must fulfill the commitments we have made to our retired employees and, at the same time, be fiscally responsible to you as taxpayers. To this end, the Board of Supervisors has adopted a financing plan to begin pre-funding these mounting health care costs and has established an irrevocable trust to ensure these funds are protected for there intended use. The Board of Supervisors will continue to work on a long-term solution that will be fair to our employees, retirees and sensible for County taxpayers.
Transportation improvements are critical to enhancing the quality of life for East County residents. Additional funding has been secured for our priority projects including the expansion of Highway 4 east (2015 completion date), completion of the Highway 4 bypass, and for Vasco Road safety. While more needs to be done, Vasco Road safety is improving and the proof is in the pudding. The California Highway Patrol statistics for injury accidents on Vasco Road have fallen from 18 in 2006 to just six through 11 months of 2007. The delineators I worked hard to have installed are making a big difference. We have also contributed funds to Alameda County to assist with their barrier project as we secure revenue to install additional passing lanes on the Contra Costa/Brushy Creek area with a center concrete divider.
Substantial progress has been made to sustain agriculture in both the agriculture core of East County as well as county-wide. I worked with local farmers to make changes to county policies that would allow our agricultural industry to thrive. I was able to obtain revisions to the county's Farm Stand Ordinance allowing farmers to operate larger produce stands including other value-added products such as jams, jellies, and dried fruits. I learned that traffic impact fees charged by the county caused a hardship on our local producers, particularly for wineries and olive mills who would like to open public tasting rooms. At my urging, the Contra Costa County Supervisors and the East Contra Costa Regional Fee and Finance Authority changed how traffic mitigation fees are calculated to encourage and support this growing niche market.
I am honored to have served as the Chair of the Board this past year and as your Supervisor for the past three. I am confident Contra Costa County is moving in the right direction and progress has been made on a number of important issues over this past year.
As always, I welcome your comments and ideas. Please feel free to contact me through my Brentwood office at 240-7260 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be responsive to your needs.
Happy holidays and a joyous new year to you and those you hold close.
Mary N. Piepho