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SLO County Roundup

South County

Lucia Mar Unified School District trustees on Tuesday will discuss whether to uphold increases in transportation fees that were approved on a 4-2 vote this week in an effort to cut the transportation budget.

The board in the same vote also decided to eliminate two of the district’s bus routes, which would affect 112 students, 61 of whom attend Ocean View Elementary.

However, that action was based upon district transportation policies that were incorrect, Superintendent Jim Hogeboom said Wednesday. The board next week will revisit the item to discuss whether it wants to make any changes to the current bus routes or to the fee increases.

Trustees Erik Howell and David Foster had dissented in Tuesday night’s vote, and trustee Georgie O’Connor was absent. On Wednesday, board President Colleen Martin requested that the item be revisited at the board’s next meeting.

The fee increases and route changes would cut the transportation budget by an estimated $150,000.

If this week’s decision is unchanged, daily transportation fees would increase to $1.50 from $1 for regular-fee students and to $0.75 from $0.50 for reduced-fee students.

— Cynthia Lambert

SLO County

The county Board of Supervisors on Wednesday tentatively adopted a 2010-11 budget of $442.7 million, down $25 million from last year.

Forty-three staff positions, all of them already vacant, were eliminated. There will be no layoffs. The county employs 2,400 people.

Supervisors added back a part-time building inspector and a part-time resource specialist in code enforcement, after the Planning and Building Department challenged earlier proposed cuts.

Labor costs remain the county’s biggest expense — 65 percent of total expenditures.

A final vote on the budget is scheduled for June 22.

— Bob Cuddy

Paso Robles

The city is moving forward in its plans to upgrade its wastewater treatment plant.

The plant’s upgrade — an estimated $51 million project — will not go out to bid for construction until the city establishes financing for it.

City staff and consultants are currently studying wastewater rates and connection fees and will propose those changes in the fall, said Matt Thompson, Paso Robles’ wastewater manager.

The City Council unanimously approved an $84,000 contract Tuesday for a third-party review of the upgrade’s design to ensure that it’s ready for construction bids.

The contract was awarded to Harris & Associates of Concord, which will work out of its Monterey County office.

Other firms — which were found less qualified for the required scope of work — presented bids ranging from $56,000 to $130,000.

City staff determined Harris & Associates had the most experience because if its background in construction management and design reviews of similar projects, staff said.

The $84,000 will come from the city’s sewer enterprise fund.

— Tonya Strickland

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