Isabella Vanderheiden / @ 10:56 a.m. / Agendizer

THIS WEEK IN SUPES: Board Continues Budget Talks, Considers Proposal to Sever Agreement with Humboldt County Visitors Bureau, and More

Photo: Andrew Goff


The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors is in store for another busy week as budget discussions continue. The board will meet this morning for a special budget hearing, and again on Tuesday for its regularly scheduled meeting. 

Let’s take a quick look at today’s agenda.

Budget Hearing

The Board of Supervisors will hold budget hearings at 1:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. today to give the public and staff a chance to share their thoughts on the county’s proposed $606.7 million spending plan for the 2024-25 fiscal year.

The county is facing a $13.86 million budget shortfall in the upcoming fiscal year, which is significant but substantially less than the $18 million deficit that was originally projected. The board has taken several actions over the past year to reduce countywide spending, such as a hiring freeze for some county departments, including the Auditor-Controller, Human Resources, Public Works Land Use, Public Works County Surveyor, Sheriff Operations and Public Defender Conflict Counsel. 

At the board’s last meeting, staff recommended that the board continue the hiring freeze for the foreseeable future but suggested that county departments seeking an exemption do so ahead of today’s meeting. Today’s agenda includes exemption requests from all but one of those departments.

The board will have an opportunity to recommend changes to the preliminary spending plan for the 2024-25 fiscal year at today’s meeting. Staff will take that feedback and incorporate it into the final proposed budget, which is slated for board approval on June 25. 

The proposed budget can be found here.

Defunding the Humboldt County Visitors Bureau

The board will also consider a proposal from staff that would sever the county’s contract with the Humboldt County Visitors Bureau (HCVB). If the proposal is approved, the county will cut funding for the organization at the end of this month.

The county’s current agreement with the HCVB, which is set to expire on June 30, allocates 18 percent of the transient occupancy tax (TOT) funding collected annually to fund countywide tourism and marketing services through the HCVB. Of the TOT paid to the HCVB under the agreement, 42 percent passes through “gateway organizations,” including the Southern Humboldt Visitor’s Bureau (SHBVB) and the Arcata, Garberville, Orick and Willow Creek chambers of commerce. Staff have budgeted  $639,712 for tourism services from the HCVB for the 2024-25 fiscal year.

Back in December, the county’s Tourism and Travel Ad Hoc Committee presented a report to the board that expressed “concern for the HCBV’s use of county funding” and questioned whether the bureau was capable of fulfilling its contract with the county. The board discussed the matter at length but ultimately decided to revisit the issue in a few months to give the ad hoc committee more time to reevaluate the county’s tourism assets and discuss the issue with local municipalities.

HCVB Executive Director Julie Benbow and HCVB Board President Ken Hamik sent a letter to the board on May 14 asking the county to continue its contract for another year to give the organization time to find alternative funding streams. 

“In order to protect and maintain current marketing momentum and to ensure continuation of marketing endeavors, or the smooth transfer of knowledge and assets and dissolution of the Bureau, HCVB proposes that the County enter into an interim, one-year Agreement, during which time a new contract can be developed and negotiated, alternate funding secured, or HCVB dissolved,” the letter states.

Staff’s recommendation asks the board to end its agreement with the bureau at the end of the month “due to funding and logistical constraints.”

The aforementioned “gateway organizations” would still receive approximately $289,533 in the upcoming fiscal year under staff’s recommendation. The $291,179 in savings would be “reallocated to Economic Development to perform a marketing asset and inventory analysis and to develop a marketing strategic framework in collaboration with gateways, tourism districts, tourism partners, and cities,” according to the staff report.

Measure J Funding 

The board will also return to its discussion on Measure J, a TOT hike approved by voters in 2022 that provides funding for essential public safety services, the county’s housing trust fund, theater and the arts. 

Last month, staff brought forth a proposal that would have kept $880,000 of the $1.06 million generated by Measure J in the county’s General Fund to help stabilize the county budget. The proposal drew criticism from several people in the arts and culture sector who felt it went against voters’ wishes and undermined the importance of the arts.

The amended proposal would keep $750,000 in the General Fund and allocate the remaining $250,000 as follows:

  • $150,000 to the Ink People Center for the Arts for projects with an economic driver;
  • $45,000 to the Aviation Department for destination marketing;
  • $30,000 to the Humboldt-Del Norte Film Commission as match funding for the Forest Moon Festival;
  • $25,000 to the Economic Development Division for administrative costs to manage all three of the above projects and contracts.


You can check out the rest of the agenda, complete with supporting documents from LoCO’s beloved AgendaBot Gennie, below.

The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors will meet Tuesday at 10 a.m. in board chambers at the Humboldt County Courthouse – 825 Fifth Street in Eureka.

Humboldt County Board of Supervisors
June 10, 2024, 10 a.m.




1. Measure J Recommendations For Fiscal Year 2024-25

Supervisors Arroyo and Bushnell are recommending that the Board of Supervisors allocate $250,000 from Measure J revenues for various tourism-related projects for the Fiscal Year 2024-25. They also suggest holding the remaining funds as a reserve for future tourism activities. The plan aims to boost tourism and support economic development, while maintaining essential services. The Measure J funds come from a hotel and motel tax and staff projects that about $1 million will be collected in the upcoming year. The proposal does not include allocations for housing or public safety, but the Board has the option to provide funding for these areas as well.

— LoCOBot

… or, as a town crier's speech!

Hear ye! Hear ye! Citizens of the County of Humboldt, today we gather for the meeting of the Board of Supervisors on this 6th day of October in the year 2024. We are here to discuss Measure J Recommendations for Fiscal Year 2024-25, presented by Supervisor Natalie Arroyo and Supervisor Michelle Bushnell.

The recommendation before the Board is to allocate $250,000 from Measure J Revenues for the next fiscal year. This allocation includes funding for the Ink People Center for the Arts, the Aviation Department for destination marketing, the Humboldt-Del Norte Film Commission for the Forest Moon Festival, and administrative costs for project management. Additionally, it is proposed to hold the remaining Measure J funds as a budgeted reserve for future tourism considerations.

This plan aims to support a diverse, equitable, and robust economy in our county, focusing on promoting a tourism economy. The allocations are meant to create a tourism-related return on investment, supporting arts, marketing efforts, and film events to draw visitors and boost economic vitality.

It is important to note that Measure J is only a portion of TOT funds collected, which also support our local tourism-related organizations. The funding sources for this plan come from the Hotel & Motel Tax and are projected to provide at least $1 million in revenue for the coming year.

As we move forward with these recommendations, let us consider the impact on our community and continue to work towards a prosperous future for all. May our decisions today pave the way for a thriving economy and vibrant cultural scene in Humboldt County.

Thank you for your attention, and may our discussions today lead to positive outcomes for our county. God save the County of Humboldt!

— LoCOBot


Staff ReportMeasure J Proposal - Arts

2. Report from the Travel and Tourism Ad Hoc Committee

The Board of Supervisors is discussing the future of the Humboldt County Visitors Bureau and the funding for tourism marketing. They are considering not renewing the current agreement with the Bureau and reallocating funds to Economic Development for a marketing analysis. The recommendation is to fund gateway communities, allocate money for immediate marketing needs, and create a strategic framework for tourism promotion. The Board is also looking at alternatives to increase funding or dissolve the Bureau. Staff does not recommend renewing the agreement and suggests reallocating funds for better marketing strategies.

— LoCOBot

… or, as a horror story!

The decision had been made. The Board of Supervisors of Humboldt County voted to not renew the current agreement with the Humboldt County Visitor’s Bureau. As the news spread throughout the county, tensions began to rise among the tourism community. The once thriving partnership between the county and the tourism organization was now severed, leaving a void in the marketing and promotion of Humboldt County.

As the days passed, strange occurrences began to unfold in the gateway communities. Reports of missing persons, mysterious sightings, and unexplained phenomena flooded the local news. The once picturesque towns now seemed shrouded in a veil of darkness and fear.

In McKinleyville, where the Chamber of Commerce had received a $25,000 allocation for marketing needs, whispers of a malevolent presence began to circulate. Local residents claimed to hear eerie laughter echoing through the streets at night, and shadows seemed to dance in the corners of their vision.

In Garberville, where the Chamber of Commerce had received the largest allocation of funds, a sense of unease settled over the town. Strange symbols appeared on the walls of buildings overnight, and residents reported feeling a chilling presence lurking just out of sight.

In Willow Creek and Orick, where the chambers had also received funding, stories of ghostly figures wandering the forests and unexplained lights in the sky spread like wildfire. The once peaceful communities now lived in fear of the unknown.

As the days turned into weeks, the darkness that had descended upon the gateway communities seemed to grow stronger. The Travel and Tourism Ad Hoc Committee’s decision to cut ties with the Humboldt County Visitor’s Bureau had unleashed something sinister, something beyond their understanding.

And as the full moon rose high in the night sky on the fateful date of June 10, 2024, the true horror of their decision became painfully clear. The gateway communities were no longer safe havens for travelers and tourists. They had become portals to a world of nightmares, where the line between reality and the supernatural blurred and the evil that had been unleashed could not be contained.

As the last echoes of screams faded into the night, the Board of Supervisors of Humboldt County knew they had made a grave mistake. They had severed the ties that bound them to the darkness, and now they were left to face the consequences of their decision. The county would never be the same again, haunted by the ghosts of their past actions and the horrors that now roamed the gateway communities.

— LoCOBot


Staff ReportOriginal HCVB Agreement dated July 5, 2016.pdfFirst Amendment to the HCVB Agreement dated July 5, 2016 .pdfSecond Amendment to the HCCVB Agreement dated July 5, 2016.pdfThird Amendment to the HCVB Agreement dated July 5, 2016.PDFHCVB 23_24_Budget Draft.pdfCAO HCVB Letter (8-25-22) .pdfHCVB Audit and Records Request Letter (7-21-23) SMA.V2.pdfCounty Invoice #1 2023-2024 Revised.pdfHCVB_County_MOU_5_24.pdf


1. 1:30 PM - Public Hearing on Proposed County Budget and Special District Budgets for Fiscal Year (FY) 2024-25

This document outlines the schedule and process for the public hearing on the proposed budgets for Humboldt County and special districts for the fiscal year 2024-25. The recommendations include steps for the Board of Supervisors to follow, such as convening as the Board of Directors for special districts, receiving public testimony, approving budgets, and setting adoption dates. It also discusses strategic plans, budget preparation, Measure J funds, a possible VSIP program, a hiring freeze, and financial impacts. The staff recommendations are subject to the board’s discretion, and attachments providing additional details and requests are included.

— LoCOBot

… or, as a scene from a thriller!

The room was filled with tension as the Board of Supervisors convened for the public hearing on the proposed County Budget and Special District Budgets for Fiscal Year 2024-25. Supervisor Martinez, the chairperson, tapped the gavel, calling the meeting to order.

As the County Administrative Office presented the recommendations, a hush fell over the room. The discussion of the special districts budgets for Loleta Fire Protection District and Whitethorn Fire Protection District brought up concerns about funding and public safety.

But just as the Board was about to move on to the discussion of the Humboldt County Budget, a loud noise echoed through the chamber. The lights flickered and went out, plunging the room into darkness. A sense of unease swept through the crowd as whispers filled the room.

Suddenly, a voice cut through the darkness, “No one move! This is a robbery!”

Panic erupted as masked figures emerged from the shadows, brandishing weapons. Supervisor Martinez tried to maintain order, but chaos reigned as the intruders demanded access to the county funds.

In the midst of the mayhem, a brave citizen stood up, defying the armed assailants. A scuffle ensued, and shots rang out, echoing in the chamber. The room erupted into chaos as people scrambled for safety, unsure if they would make it out alive.

Amidst the confusion and danger, the fate of the County Budget and Special District Budgets hung in the balance, as the Board of Supervisors fought to regain control of the situation and ensure the safety of everyone present. The outcome of the meeting had suddenly become a matter of life and death.

— LoCOBot


Staff ReportAttachment 1 Proposed BudgetAttachment 2 Additional Funding RequestsAttachment 3 199 Funding RequestsAttachment 4 Special Districts Budget ModificationsAttachment 5 Measure Z Final RankingsAttachment 6 Public Works- Roadway RepairsAttachment 7a Human Resources Hiring Freeze ExceptionAttachment 7b Auditor-Controller Hiring Freeze ExceptionAttachment 7c Public Works Hiring Freeze ExceptionAttachment 7d Sheriff Hiring Freeze ExceptionAttachment 7e DHHS Hiring Freeze ExceptionAttachment 8 2024-2025 Budget Request MMAC

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