Supervisor David Couch’s Positions on Important Issues in the 4th District
Cleaning Up Kern County
Everyone deserves to live and work in a clean and safe community. Increased code enforcement is one way to clean up a neighborhood. Property owners are afforded due process and are given ample time to correct violations. The County actually prefers it when property owners self-abate and clean up their own property. We have focused on this in the Fourth District and, as a result, neighborhoods are looking better. Another way to beautify your community is through community clean ups. My office has sponsored a number of these throughout the Fourth District and we look forward to doing more. For more information on this topic click here.
No Kill Animal Shelter and Pet Spay and Neuter
The County of Kern has made great strides toward reducing its animal euthanasia and overpopulation. In the fiscal year 2013-14, the County funded over 500 spay and neuter surgeries, but in the fiscal year 2014-15 that number increased to over 3,900 surgeries. The Board of Supervisors has definitely committed itself to spay and neuter programs and I’m proud to have been a part of that. Over the last four years the County’s euthanasia rate has dropped from 55%, to 43%, to 39%, and we’re on track for 28% this year. During my Chairmanship the Board of Supervisors adopted a goal for its animal shelter to become a “No Kill” shelter by 2020. This means the County’s animal save rate will be 90% or better. Programs and processes are already in place to achieve this goal. The County cannot do this on its own. Many great local organizations and volunteers have already stepped up and are providing a helping hand. For more information on this topic click here.
Shrinking the Size and Scope of Government and Lean and Efficient Processes
Left unattended bureaucracies get too big and move more slowly. On the County level we can do better and I believe over the last three and a half years we have made strides to make government work better for residents. One of the goals I presented to the County for adoption was the consolidation of departments. The County adopted this goal and consolidated six departments into two. Overtime employees in these departments will be cross trained, employee numbers will be reduced through attrition, service and efficiencies will be improved, and redundancy and waste eliminated. Recently, through changes like this, the Public Works department reduced its budget by over $1 million and that number could quadruple in the next few years.
Providing a More Business-friendly Environment and Expanding Opportunities in the Private Sector
It’s important for our federal, state, and local governments to work with the private sector not against it. Finding creative ways for government to incentivize and support our local industries and small businesses is very important. In the Fourth District we have created two economic opportunity areas one near Buena Vista Lake and the Enos Lane corridor and the other in Lost Hills. Portions of the property tax increment in these areas will be set aside and designated for future infrastructure and services to incentivize economic growth. We’ve already seen results with the grand opening of Gaby’s Grill and Cantina in Lost Hills. Inevitably there is only so much local officials can do to grow and support our local economy as Sacramento politicians continue to dream up ways of taxing our businesses out of business. Having a voice to advocate on Kern’s behalf is very important. I’ve done just that. I was proud to testify in front of a California Senate Committee against an oil severance tax and recently I voted against placing a sales tax on the ballot that will hit the poorest of us the hardest.
Supporting Public Safety
Public safety has and will always be my top priority. Keeping our neighborhoods safe is the most important service government provides. Kern County is a law enforcement community. One of the divisions within law enforcement that I am proud to say I led the charge to restore and fund is the Sheriff’s Rural Crimes Unit. This unit is responsible for investigating thefts and property crimes of our rural farms, oil fields, and other remote areas. The Fourth District is particularly depended on this unit as it has a very large percentage of Kern’s oil and agriculture properties. I am proud of the recent efforts made by the Board of Supervisors and our Sheriff to keep the Buttonwillow substation open. Through collaboration this substation remains open five days a week. For more information on this topic click here.
Transparency and Accountability
The public’s business is meant to be just that — public. My office has made a point of making sure you know what your Kern County government is doing and answering your questions. The County recently joined open gov. This is an organization that provides public access to government finances – particularly government budgets. Another part of accountability is just plan being accessible. Call me any time. For more information on this topic click here.
More to Come
As the campaign continues, so will our discussion with constituents. Check back here for additional issue position statements and information about how we can work together to help make the 4th District an even better place.