VISTA – Fifth District Supervisor Bill Horn gave his annual State of North County Address last week to about 150 people at the AVO Playhouse in Vista. Horn was introduced by Vista Mayor Morris Vance who served as the event’s emcee.
Horn said that getting the local economy back on track and enhancing public safety are his two biggest challenges. Horn said, “The tragic deaths of Chelsea King and Amber DuBois remind us how fragile life can be and how we must remain vigilant—not only in keeping the justice system accountable but also in reinforcing the bonds of family and community.”
Supervisor Horn said despite the County being threatened with “politics as usual” in Sacramento, the County has a balanced budget with healthy reserves and a credit rating among the highest of any government in the U.S.
Supervisor Horn said an initiative he brought forth is now a County ordinance that prevents any requirements, beyond what state or federal law mandates to use union labor on public projects. “In a time when revenues are being squeezed and new jobs are hard to come by, protecting taxpayer resources and small businesses is vital,” he said.
He anticipates rolling out new federal partnerships in May with North County cities, as well as the community of Fallbrook, that will implement strategies in dealing with gangs.
Fire protection was a common theme during the speech. “Our fire agencies and volunteer fire departments are now better equipped and better trained,” Supervisor Horn said, citing ongoing efforts to reorganize fire protection resources. He said managing vegetation is a key to preventing wildfires and lamented recent litigation by environmentalists to halt the process.
Supervisor Horn listed progress in widening Highway 76 and realigning roads between Vista and San Marcos as ways to reduce traffic congestion.
Also highlighted was progress on a seven-mile linear park along the San Luis Rey River and his efforts to work with the Coates’ family to preserve Rancho Guejito near Escondido.
Threatening the lifeblood of the County is the availability and distribution of water. Supervisor Horn said the state is victim of a “political drought” through misguided policies and court decisions that protect the two-inch Delta smelt while ignoring the needs of people. Horn said he supports desalination and alternative conveyance of water (peripheral canal).
Supervisor Horn highlighted two recent workshops at the County Farm Bureau to discuss the General Plan Update and Multiple Species Conservation Plan with local farmers. “I pledged a long time ago to protect the private property owners in this County,” said Horn, “and I have no intention of wavering on that promise.”
He praised the cooperation with the Fallbrook community that will open a new library in the fall. He also cited the importance of Palomar Airport and its recent major improvements, accomplished without general fund money.
Supervisor Horn praised the close working relationship with the city of Vista and non-profit organizations throughout North County and highlighted several projects he has funded over the years through the County’s Neighborhood Reinvestment program.
“It has been my pleasure to be able to return your money to your communities,” Horn said.