San Diego County board hears next year’s proposed budget

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — San Diego County’s proposed budget for next year is $5.35 billion, budget numbers that are higher than the total budgets of four states.

The budget is a net increase of 1.2 percent over the current fiscal year and boosts spending for many areas of county government.

There are no new initiatives in this balanced budget that will cover pay raises, additional staffing, pension costs and increase funding for mental health services.

The budget focuses on mental health services for adults, children and their families.

County CFO Don Steuer said this includes adding psychiatric response teams, additional in-home outreach and supportive services for the homeless at a cost of $540 million.

"We’re increasing funds for self-sufficiency services to Calfresh by expanding medical health insurance for all low income children. and to help Calwork recipients to become self sufficient," Steuer said.

"By expanding project-one for all we’re focusing on helping people with serous behavioral health conditions who are also chronically homeless," Steuer added.

The county will add 240 employees to expand these services.

Much of the budget goes for what are called program revenues or mandated services.

"Approximately $4.1 billion of our $5.4 billion budget is supported with revenues that have to be used for specific services," Steuer said.

"The remaining $1.1 billion of funding comes to us in the form of general purpose revenue or GPR, this is where your board has discretion on how to allocate," he added.

The budget will expand library services in Forest Ranch, Alpine, Imperial Beach and Borrego Springs.

More funds for roads and sidewalk repairs, traffic signals and bridge safety.

But there are also risks: $2.7 billion of unfunded pension liabilities.

"The county continues to make our full payments into the system. In addition we have a pension stabilization fund of 60-million dollars in anticipation in a drop of the assumed rate of return," said County Chief Administrative Officer Helen Robbins Meyer.

Meyer said $100 million is set aside for an unexpected drop in the stock market.

She appealed to the cities in the county to help address the homeless problem.

"Pooling resources and sharing innovative solutions but all cities must help to provide crisis beds, shelters and affordable housing units," she said.

And she also appealed to labor in advance of next year’s bargaining contracts.

"Finding a balance of appropriate wage increases for our valuable employees at the same time that we’re seeing increasing service needs for the public while remaining fiscally responsible with our taxpayers money is always challenging," she said.

Another risk is the increase in the crime rate and ever changing criminal justice regulations, Ferguson for example, that is forcing local governments to redefine how they protect the public.

Categories: Local San Diego News