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Wednesday, December 19 , 2018, 2:51 am | Fair 45º


Santa Barbara Police Gear Up to Discuss $34 Million Budget

Pension costs, elimination of vacancies, stepped-up policing of homeless all likely to be aired at hearing

Even as local revenues begin to recover, the city of Santa Barbara is still working to cover a projected $2.7 million shortfall, and the Police Department is likely to see more cuts this year.

The city’s current recommended budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1 doesn’t include any layoffs, but 10 vacant positions are eliminated. Seven of those appear to be coming from the police force, and an additional position is slated to be cut in 2012.

Police officials will be giving their department’s budget presentation Monday night to the City Council, which will then weigh which cuts will go forward.

The majority of SBPD’s revenues, nearly $28 million, come from the city’s General Fund, which has been badly battered the last several budget cycles. The department’s total budget for 2011 is $34,300,673.  Local revenues are showing signs of recovery, and this year’s budget shortfall is considerably less than last year’s.

But pension costs have increased since market losses in 2008 and 2009, a large contributor to the deficit, according to City Administrator Jim Armstrong’s budget message.

“Continued wage and benefit concessions are needed in fiscal year 2012 from our general and supervisory employees to address much of the projected deficit,” he said.

Over the past two years, businesses and residents along Milpas Street and in downtown Santa Barbara have been increasingly vocal in their demands for more policing of the area’s homeless. To address that issue, city staffers are proposing a three-year pilot program to expand restorative policing efforts. 

Modeled after the city of Santa Monica’s homeless outreach program, the Santa Barbara version would have targeted in-street staffing and outreach workers working under the direction of the Police Department’s tactical patrol program. But funding for the program may be in a precarious position.

Officials say $135,000 in Redevelopment Agency money was being used as placeholder funding for the program’s expansion, but after the state of California raided municipal funds last week, it’s unclear if that funding is still available. Santa Barbara paid the state $1,405,129 last week after a state court upheld the state government’s right to raid local monies gathered by redevelopment agencies.

Other cities are in the midst of painful decisions regarding their own law enforcement, as well. Carpinteria, which contracts with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department for law enforcement, voted last week to eliminate three positions from its current contract to save money. Goleta, which also contracts with the Sheriff’s Department, will be talking this week about whether to proceed with its current service levels, which are expected to increase $1.4 million by 2013.

The Santa Barbara police budget presentation will begin in City Hall council chambers at 6 p.m. Monday. The council is expected to adopt a budget by June 21.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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