Alamo body questions funding | June 19, 2009 | Danville Express | |

Danville Express

Newsfront - June 19, 2009

Alamo body questions funding

Members want to know where their money goes

by Geoff Gillette

Questions over whether Alamo's Zone 36 Lighting and Landscaping Committee will disband remain unanswered following the group's June 10 meeting.

In May, Committee Chairwoman Alicia Watson said the group may disband due to a lack of funds and the inability to get projects on the board for Alamo. However, after their most recent meeting, Watson said they are beginning to get answers from Contra Costa County as to where their annual funding goes and how to get some of it redirected to projects.

Tomi Van de Brooke, Chief of Staff to Supervisor Mary N. Piepho, attended the meeting and worked to answer questions from members as to the disposition of their funding.

"Tomi Van de Brooke gave a very good explanation of some of the things we have been questioning," said Watson.

At issue is an engineer's report done annually that takes up two-thirds of the committee's annual budget of $45,000.

"There are different parts about the costs of the engineer's report. Things we did not know we are paying for," Watson stated. The committee is drafting a letter to the county asking for a further explanation of the fees and services.

Another question raised during the discussion is the cost for county service charged back to the committee's budget.

"If the public calls the county and asks a question about Zone 36, they charge that back to the Zone 36 budget," said Watson.

Van de Brooke said that while calls are charged back, she doesn't think it occurs on an everyday basis.

"I hesitate to say that every call that comes in is charged to Zone 36," she claimed, "but if significant time is spent on an inquiry that type of activity would be charged to the zone."

Committee members were directed to discuss the engineer's report further with county staffers. Watson said if they are able to recoup some of that expenditure, it might free up some money for projects in Alamo.

"I don't know what's going to happen with this," she said. "It all depends on whether the county can do anything about the disproportionate amount we pay."