Local jurisdictions have adopted their budgets for the 2011-12 year without knowing what the California Legislature’s financial plan will be, and rising costs of public safety have resulted in law enforcement cuts for many cities.
Santa Barbara bucked the trend, and the City Council unanimously approved a $290 million operational budget and a $25 million Redevelopment Agency budget Tuesday that include plans to fund a restorative policing program and find money in the future for three more police officers.
City Manager Jim Armstrong said increasing the police force and having a balanced budget next year will be difficult, but council members reiterated their commitment to public safety and somehow finding the $450,000.
The city is assuming that labor groups will agree to more concessions, including furloughs and suspension of vacation cash-outs, as they have in the past few years.
Santa Barbara County
The Board of Supervisors cut $72 million for the 2011-12 year, including the elimination of 50 Sheriff’s Department positions and major cuts to the District Attorney’s Office. Click here for a full list of board adjustments.
The supervisors did fund the county’s warming shelters with $25,000, half the amount the program received last year, and fully funded the Pro Pay program, which helps mentally ill people manage their federal benefits.
The City of Goleta adopted its budget Tuesday and included the use of reserves and two fewer deputies for its contract with the Sheriff’s Department.
Employees were given cost-of-living increases after three years without raises but now have to contribute into their retirements, which was traditionally paid by the city. The city expects a revenue “bump” next year from additional sales and bed taxes once part of its revenue neutrality agreement with the county expires.
At the June 13 meeting, the Carpinteria City Council discussed cuts to community services after deciding to eliminate three Sheriff’s Department positions — and $420,000 — leaving the city with 14 positions in its public safety contract.
The city is facing a $1 million deficit, but it also has more than $7 million in reserves, and one councilmember argued that those should be considered before making further cuts to community services.
Joe Armendariz, who voted against the cuts to the Sheriff’s Department, said the budget deserved more scrutiny and said he was against cutting any of the community services budget.
“The only sacred cow in Carpinteria is the strategic reserve,” he said, arguing that some of the reserves should be used to backfill services.
Councilman Brad Stein argued that reserves, some of which had been set aside for things such as park maintenance, shouldn’t be used for other things.
“I understand your frustration with the sheriff’s contract, but we are not putting this community in jeopardy,” he said. “What we’ve done across the board is tighten our belts.”
— Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.