Supervisor talks to Taft Rotary Club

Kern County government is emerging from the fiscal crisis triggered by a perfect storm of events beyond its control but now rumblings from Sacramento are causing fear that the oil industry, traditionally one of the two biggest parts of the county's tax base, could be threatened.
Kern County Supervisor Zack Scrivner spoke at the Taft Rotary Club last week and gave a largely upbeat look at how the county has pulled itself out of a fiscal crisis by eliminating a structural budget through "fiscal responsibility, pension reform and accountability."

After four years of austerity, things are starting to look up, the supervisor told the Rotarian.

New investments -- an Amazon fulfillment center already under construction -- and a proposed casino promise new jobs and new revenue for the county.

Already Kern has seen 5,000 jobs created here over the past three years and the proposed Tejon Indian Tribe Casino near Mettler could put an estimated $220 million into county coffers over the next two decades, funding a new Sheriff's substation and 13 deputy positions plus building and staffing for a new Kern County fire station.

One way the County is able to spur development, Scrivner said, is through tax incentives for businesses that can demonstrate they will create new jobs and retain them.

The financial recovery for the county has allowed it to give Sheriff's deputies a hefty raise and bonuses to make them the highest paid law enforcement officers in the county and even put more money into county parks and spay/neuter programs for animals, but there are still problems, especially with the growing homeless problem.

Scrivner said Kern County and the city of Bakersfield are looking at a joint project to add more emergency shelter beds for the homeless.

But all this takes place as the legislative agenda in Sacramento that threatens to seriously hamper Kern County's oil industry if not, as some fear, shut it down altogether.

"We are seeing less and less moderate Democrats that want to listen to us and the governor is less and less sympathetic," Scrivner said. "The writing is on the wall. That's why we are trying to diversify our economy."