Thursday, November 15 , 2018, 9:36 pm | Fair 52º


Supervisors Face Grim Budget Picture, Rising Benefit Costs

The governor's proposed budget and other fiscal challenges — including county staffing, salaries and retirement — will top the agenda Tuesday

Santa Barbara County’s budget — and statewide implications — will be at the top of the agenda when the Board of Supervisors meets Tuesday.

The supervisors will consider a report on the governor’s proposed 2010-11 budget and the effects it could have on the county budget.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger submitted his proposed budget in January and projected a $20 billion deficit through the end of the fiscal year — an amount some people have voiced as too optimistic.

Much of the governor’s current budget relies on funding or flexibility from the federal government. If the feds neglect to provide that relief, residents could feel deep cuts on the state and county levels.

A transportation tax could be in the works, as well as ballot initiatives that propose dipping into mental health funds to address the budget.

In addition to looking at the state budget, the supervisors will look at the county’s own budget forecast.

According to staff reports, the upcoming fiscal year’s budget gap stems mostly from a growth in expenditures. To maintain current staffing levels, the county would need to shell out nearly $39 million in additional costs. Staff salaries would increase $14 million, and employee benefits would increase $25 million.

The most significant component of the benefits increase would come from maintaining the current level of retirement benefits — about $20 million. Decreasing revenues also are expected in the next year.

Tuesday will be the first in a series of budget workshops, aptly named “Defining the Problem,” for the 2010-11 fiscal year. The next session, looking at potential service effects, will be Feb. 22.

According to staff reports, county departments are in the process of developing budget requests, and the workshops are designed to help guide the process.

The board will meet at 9 a.m. Tuesday in the Board Hearing Room in the Betteravia Government Center, 511 E. Lakeside Pkwy. in Santa Maria.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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