Pixel Tracker

Sunday, January 20 , 2019, 5:34 pm | A Few Clouds 63º


Santa Barbara County Releases Proposed Budget Cuts

No department is spared, with Alcohol, Drug, and Mental Health Services hit the hardest so far

No matter how you sliced it, last month’s UCSB Economic Forecast Project seminar cautioned residents to brace for a long haul of economic hardship. In releasing proposed budget cuts this week, the Santa Barbara County Executive Office made similarly bleak predictions regarding the widening gap between revenues and expenditures, noting that the full effects of the post-2008 economic downturn haven’t been fully felt by county agencies.

The county has tapped its rapidly depleting reserve fund during the past couple of years, and other devices — such as fund balances and redirects, as well as furloughs and staff concessions — also have been deployed to help soften the blow caused by sharp decreases in fee and tax revenues.

Facing a $20 million budget gap, the county’s five-year projection includes an eventual increase in the discrepancy to more than $60 million by fiscal year 2013-14. While most departments have been instructed to cut about 10 percent from their operating budgets, the County Executive Office and the Board of Supervisors have been adamant that public safety areas such as the Sheriff’s Department, the District Attorney’s Office and the Probation Department receive less severe cuts.

Some General Fund revenues were redirected to those departments, and the county Fire Department, which relies more heavily on money from dedicated property taxes and a Proposition 172 sales tax, had an easier time avoiding the proverbial trimming shears than did other departments.

“New paradigms are required to adjust to the economic reality constraining the current method of operating,” CEO Mike Brown said in the report, calling for a massive restructuring of the county’s service model in order to balance future budgets. Noting that California as a whole faces a $42 billion budget deficit because of decreased revenues and an increasing demand for public services, Brown targeted a number of key expenses that he said were the cause of Santa Barbara County’s fiscal woes.

In addition to declining revenues from slow economic recovery, the report cited a projected need to continue funding double-digit increases to the county’s retirement fund, 3 percent annual employee wage increases, increased payments to social services departments, and the county’s need to build and staff a new jail as the major reasons for the continually widening gap.

While the CEO’s report suggests impending carnage, the really tough number-wrangling has not yet begun in earnest. The data presented doesn’t seem as hopeless as those calculated during a recent budget workshop, and the Board of Supervisors has yet to weigh in.

Furthermore, despite the hanging threat of layoffs, several employee labor unions have been hashing out deals so that everyone can get by with less.

In all, Brown’s department recommended more than $16 million in cuts, eliminating nearly 140 staff positions.

Proposed Cuts

The following is a list of the proposed budget reductions and number of personnel cuts for each department.

» County Executive Office: $351,000; 2

» County Counsel: $892,000; 6.45

» Court Special Services: $45,000; 0

» District Attorney: $1.3 million; 9.5

» Fire: $342,000; 0

» Probation: $4.5 million; 35

» Sheriff: $1.98 million; 15.5

» Alcohol, Drug, & Mental Health: $10.4 million; 7

» Public Health: $1.4 million; 15.2

» Social Services: $2.2 million; 0

» Agriculture & Cooperative Extension: $178,000; 1.4

» Housing & Community Development: $72,000; 0

» Parks: $606,000; 2

» Planning & Development: $3.4 million; 25

» Public Works: $354,000; 2.4

» Auditor-Controller: $632,000; 2

» Clerk-Recorder: $360,000; 3.8

» General Service: $1.97 million; 6

» Human Resources: $248,000; 2.3

» Information Technology: $125,000; 1

» Treasurer-Tax Collector: $122,000; 2

» General County Programs: $223,000; 0

» Total cuts: $16.17 million; 139

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

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >