Business / Economy

COMMENTARY: Board Of Supervisors Goes Cheap On Economic Expansion

Paltry $35K investment shows the county’s lack of interest in improving its economic situation

There are a number of axioms that mean almost the same thing; two of them are “If you want to know people’s true intentions ignore what they say and watch what they do” and the shorter, gruffer version which I prefer, “talk is cheap."

When it comes to cheap talk, hardly anything competes with the constant wails of the county Board of Supervisors concerning their lack of revenue coupled with their refusal to do anything about it as demonstrated by the trivial $35,000 annual “investment” in improving the county’s economic condition. 

Even though the county as a whole received only $76.85 per capita in regular sales and use taxes in Fiscal Year 2015 (ranking a miserable 49th out of 58 counties, the state average being $121 per capita) it was still $1.4 million from the unincorporated area alone. This did not include any other income, offsets or benefits like employment received from business-related operations. Merely getting to the state average in sales taxes would bring in another $1 million from the unincorporated area.

To put this $35,000 in perspective, the county recently reported that it failed to collect $430,000, 12 times the economic budget, in permit fees that are probably gone forever because the applicants are no longer in business. What was the budget for incompetence? On the same agenda as "funding" economic development was the purchase of $478,000 worth of road maintenance equipment, some to replace items intentionally destroyed to comply with air quality regulations; costs keep leapfrogging while revenue is stagnant at a low number. Just saying "we don't want to become a bedroom community" is not an effective strategy; the county needs to put their money where their mouth is.

The road equipment will not bring in a dime to pay the crews needed to operate it, funds we do not have to fix the county’s roads currently rated 37 overall where a rating of 60 is the minimum acceptable condition. More wailing – what they are really saying is we cannot afford to even keep the road condition average at 37 much less improve it, we are headed for zero, but please don’t ask us to invest in expanding our business income. We will wait until the businesses come begging, or the county dies, whichever comes first.

Let’s face it, $35,000 for the entire county is a mere token budget that exists only to placate the local economic development organizations and their supporters who have to come begging for funding.  San Benito County’s “leaders," appear to be too proud and too shortsighted to help themselves; they’d rather stay poor on the expectation that the residents will feel sorry for them.

God may help those who help themselves in other locations, but it does not apply to our county government when it comes to economic health; their motto is, “We're hoping to get lucky.”


Marty Richman

Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, Marty (Martin G.) spent his teen years in northern New Jersey. He served more than 22 years on active military duty, mostly in Europe, and is a retired U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 4, Nuclear Weapons Technical Officer. Marty then worked 25 years in various engineering and management positions in the electronics and energetic materials industries supporting the communications, computer, aerospace, defense and automotive sectors. He is a graduate, summa cum laude, from The College of Hard Knocks, among his numerous awards and accomplishments. He was a regular weekly Op/Ed columnist and feature writer for The Hollister Free Lance for seven years and a member of its editorial board for five years. Marty is a frequent commentator and contributor to BenitoLink on a wide variety of local, state, national and international subjects.   Marty was elected to represent the City of Hollister District 4 on the City Council in November, 2018. Marty and his wife, Joyce, have been residents of Hollister since 1996.