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Morongo Unified School District Superintendent Tom Baumgarten gave a surprise presentation at last night’s Yucca Valley Town Council meeting about the district’s plans for holding hybrid classes starting in January. He said the students’ desks have already been spaced out six feet. One day will be set aside each week for deep cleaning. Half of the district’s employees will be tested for COVID-19 each month. The district is using $1.2 million from federal funds allocated for the COVID crisis to install internet connections at each school for students to use for online learning. But, he added, it will be a challenge to keep the students separated from each other at meals and during recess. Managing editor Tami Roleff says the town council also discussed the two measures concerning the county charter that are on the ballot…

San Bernardino County is so large that it covers, or touches on, 20 counties in northern California.

San Bernardino County is more than 20,000 square miles, has more than 20,000 county employees, and has a $6 billion budget. Yucca Valley Town Council members agreed that slashing the county supervisors’ salary to $60,000 per year (which includes travel and benefits in that amount), would mean that only the wealthy could afford to become a supervisor, or that supervisors could only work part-time at their supervisor job. Despite pleas from three local residents to support Measure K—which, besides cutting the salary to $60,000, would limit supervisors to one term—the council voted 5-0 to support a resolution in favor of Measure J and oppose Measure K.

Yucca Valley town staff recommended that the town council approve a resolution opposing Measure K.
Yucca Valley Town Staff recommended that the town council approve a resolution supporting Measure J.

The council learned that the town’s budget didn’t fare as badly as projected back in March when the COVID-19 pandemic first hit. While sales tax revenues from auto sales and restaurants were down significantly at the fiscal year end, online sales tax revenues were higher than expected, and the transient occupancy tax for short-term vacation rentals exceeded the budget projections by more than $100,000. Property tax revenues also increased. It’s unknown if the positive numbers in the budget are due to stimulus spending, and will then decline in the next quarter, or some other factor. With the county remaining in the most restricted tier, sales tax revenues for auto sales and restaurants are expected to remain below normal for at least the next quarter. The council agreed to transfer some of the excess revenue into the town’s reserve fund to make sure the town can remain fiscally sustainable in case there is another economic downturn.

Sale tax revenues in Yucca Valley bounced back during the second quarter of 2020.
Despite the COVID-19 economic crisis, the town’s budget did better than expected.

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