by Bay City News
Contra Costa County Supervisor Federal Glover emphasized the county's wise budgeting in the face of a tough economy and its promising economic future in a state of the county speech this afternoon.
The yearly address was given before a packed conference room full of local legislators, labor and business leaders at the Pleasant Hill Country Club. The event was hosted by the Contra Costa Council, a group that promotes public policy affecting the region's economic vitality and quality of life.
Glover, who has served on the Board of Supervisors for more than a decade, said the county's savvy financial planning despite the economic downturn has paid off.
He credited the board's collaboration with labor groups for its ability to reduce layoffs while maintaining services.
Last year, the county closed a budget deficit of more than $100 million, yielding a balanced budget this year, Glover said, prompting a round of applause from the audience.
Still, he noted, the county's finances are largely a reflection of the state and national economy.
"It is still a fragile improvement, and a full recovery is a few years down the road," he cautioned.
In 2013, Glover said he and other county officials hope to focus on the region's economic future, in part by strengthening enterprise zones established in Pittsburg, Bay Point and Richmond.
The supervisor also highlighted the economic possibilities along the county's North Shore, which stretches from Richmond to Oakley.
"The North Shore is our county's greatest resource, but it is underutilized and I want that to change," Glover said.
The "North Shore Initiative" will be a county effort to unite major county players to bring new business to the area, he said.
Projects under the initiative could include dredging, improving port facilities, and paving the way for a commuter ferry system.
In addition to a potential ferry system, Glover said he hopes to continue to work to upgrade county roadways, as with the current widening of the highly-congested state Highway 4.
He said he also hopes to address gaps in the county's bus service by working to consolidate the four main bus companies and minimize the need for transfers.
The supervisor also spoke about the county's work to accommodate the influx of prisoners under the state's public safety realignment plan.
The Board of Supervisors last month approved a $20 million Community Corrections Partnership budget to do that, with a large portion of the funding earmarked for programs to help reduce the rate of inmates returning to jail.
"Contra Costa County will operate as a lean machine, but like the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz, a machine that has a heart," he said.
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