Kern looks to ‘spirit of innovation’ to weather fiscal crisis

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

Kern looks to ‘spirit of innovation’ to weather fiscal crisisAs Kern County moves into its third year of fiscal crisis — triggered largely by the declining value of oil, historically its most lucrative revenue source — the State of the County Address delivered last week by incoming Kern County Board of Supervisors Chair Zack Scrivner underscored the importance of refining stewardship of an area the size of Massachusetts with a population of nearly 900,000.

“The county owes it to you to make the best and most efficient use of the resources you provide in delivering the services people need,” said Scrivner.

“This means not squandering those resources in good times and — in both good and bad times — constantly reassessing how and what we do so we can improve your return on that investment.”

That has been a challenge in light of the recent fiscal crisis, he said. “Supervisor Gleason declared one year ago at this event that we are not defined by the price of a barrel — which we are not,” said Scrivner.

So the crisis has prompted the county government to refine its focus and adapt by rethinking and redesigning its approach.

“The spirit of innovation is what built Kern County, and what works in the private sector can work in the government.”

He went on to share videos that highlight entrepreneurial successes that employ these innovations in product design and delivery, employee training, resource management and more.

“They’re all happening because people are reimagining new paths to customer value or, in some cases, creating entirely new products.”

For the 1st District, which includes the Indian Wells Valley, Scrivner noted that recent formation of the IWV Groundwater Authority is “an important step toward ensuring there will be enough water to sustain the missions at China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station and the adjoining communities into the future.”

Last year saw the closure of the county jail in Ridgecrest, and county fire support to Station 73 in Inyokern is vulnerable.

“No part of county government can afford to view itself as ‘special,’ with a separate culture and separate rules — not administrators, not department heads, not public safety.”

The last may have referred to recent scrutiny on the Kern County Fire Department, where 100 employees making a base income of $92,000 annually collected upward of $200,000 each in additional overtime pay.

Sheriff Donny Youngblood also outlined challenges facing his department during a recent address in Ridgecrest. (See related story: http://www.news-ridgecrest.com/news/story.pl?id=0000006631)

Pictured: 2nd District Supervisor Zack Scrivner delivers last week’s State of the County address. -- Photo by Laura Austin

Story First Published: 2017-02-03