BARSTOW • San Bernardino County Supervisor Neil Derry talked about his  accomplishments in office at a town hall meeting at Quigley's restaurant Wednesday evening, telling Barstow residents he had made progress in creating greater transparency in government, completing key public works projects and cutting politicians' salaries.

Derry, who is running for reelection to represent the county's 3rd District — recently redrawn to include Barstow — said he would work with city officials to create greater synergies between county and city-run construction projects.

Derry said the county would continue to face financial challenges even after an economic recovery. Properties will have their value reassessed at prices lower than before the economic downturn and Proposition 13 mandates that property taxes cannot rise more than 2 percent each year, preventing a quick increase in revenue from that source even if home values rebound, Derry said.

As a result, the county will have to adjust to lower levels of government spending, Derry said.

Closing rural landfills, though, was a step too far, Derry said. Derry said he opposed closing low-volume sites like the Barstow Landfill because forcing desert residents to drive greater distances to dump their trash would harm local communities, Derry said.

County officials have said that closing low-volume landfills was one option to close the county Solid Waste Division's $13.3 million budget deficit, along with reducing hours or raising dumping rates at the facilities.

"If we start increasing costs, people are going to start dumping their stuff all over the desert," Derry said.

He said that he had requested a meeting with Solid Waste Division officials and would tell them that they needed to find more economical ways to provide service that did not involve closures. If it came to a vote, Derry said he would vote against any proposed closures.

When asked about the proposed Hinkley sludge plant, Derry said the county had been obligated to approve the project because it had completed the normal environmental review process and that process determined that it should not present a hazard to the community.
Derry said that he supported renewable energy development, but only if the projects do not harm pristine land and are not visible from key places.

Derry said he was confident that voters in the district would give him a second term. Redistricting made the 3rd District the most conservative in the county by a 12 point margin, Derry said, and that would make it difficult for his opponent, San Manuel Band of Mission Indians chairman James Ramos, to win over voters.

San Bernardino Airport Commission Chairman Jim Bagley, of Twentynine Palms, entered the Supervisor's race Feb. 5.

Barstow Councilman Tim Saenz, along with Mayor Pro Tem Julie Hackbarth-McIntyre, endorsed Derry Feb. 6.

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(760) 256-4126 or spearson@desertdispatch.com