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Thursday, May 09 2013 10:57 AM

'First Look': Supervisor Couch tackles county budget

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    Kern County Supervisor David Couch appears on "First Look with Scott Cox."

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What's the most important issue facing Kern County's 4th District, the one thing that keeps Supervisor David Couch up at night? The answer to Scott Cox's query dominated the supervisor's discussion on "First Look with Scott Cox" Thursday.

"The most important thing we do is adopt a budget, where we lay out what our priorities are," Couch said, noting that's an issue for the entire county, not just his district.

The supervisor said there will be less revenue coming into the county, to the tune of about $18 million. Some will be backfilled from new projects, "but we are still going to have a shortfall," Couch said.

Budget hearings begin this month, with a final budget adopted in August. Couch said the public needs to say what is most important in the budget. He also said the government's main function is to provide public safety services.

"It's all a balancing act," Couch said of addressing departments' needs. The county is slowly coming back with hiring for positions that became vacant when people retired or were laid off, he said.

Cox also asked Couch what he thinks of Leticia Perez's run for the 16th District Senate seat, which, if she were to win it, would men she'd leave the county Board of Supervisors after only a few months on the job. Couch said he thinks Perez was in a very difficult spot, and she was asked to run. But he also noted that he hasn't talked with her about it.

Litter and graffiti were also topics Cox brought up. Couch said if you drive on Highway 99, "It looks atrocious."

But work's underway to change that. Couch said $1 from each car registration goes to the Kern Motorist Aid Authority.

For years, that money has been used to pay for call boxes. But as those are removed, that money can be used for anything that's an aid to motorists -- including paying people to clean up the highway. Couch said hopefully that effort will expand to every state highway in Kern.



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