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Tuesday, December 18 , 2018, 4:24 am | Fair 47º


Offer Your Two Cents at County Budget Hearings

The Santa Barbara County Recommended Fiscal Year 2017-18 Budget is posted on the county website for review. The Board of Supervisors will make final decisions and adopt a $1.079 billion balanced budget during public hearings next month.

Budget hearings will convene at 9 a.m. Monday, June 12, and if needed, June 14 and 16, in the county Administration Building, 105 E. Anapamu St.

Remote testimony will be available at the Joseph Centeno Betteravia Government Administration Building, 511 E. Lakeside Pkwy, Santa Maria. Community members are encouraged to participate in the hearings.

Overall, the total operating revenues grew by 5.8 percent and operating expenditures grew by 5.3 percent. Recommended staffing levels are reduced by 188 budgeted full time positions, not all currently filled, which is a 4.3 percent drop from the previous year.

Even with growing revenues, the Recommended Budget reflects reductions required in certain program areas to ensure a balanced budget. More than $30 million in ongoing service reductions are proposed in the budget.

The largest reductions affect the processing of state and federally-funded benefits, such as CalFresh, CalWORKS and Medi-Cal programs within the Department of Social Services (DSS; Social Services).

County departments are affected differently, with some facing little to minimal impacts, others facing more significant changes depending on the nature of departments’ funding sources for these services and type of operations.

“More than 70 percent of county revenue is restricted for specified services, leaving less than 30 percent of the budget for discretionary spending on board priorities,” said Budget Director Jeff Frapwell.

“Increasing expenditure demands are outpacing revenues,” he said.

“While federal, state and other local revenues have increased overall, recent state program reductions and funding caps in some areas are significantly impacting the county’s ability to provide the same level of service next year, particularly in Social Services," Frapwell said.

"Historically, many of these services were funded by intergovernmental revenues with minimal General Fund contribution," he said.

The budget process began in late 2016 that led up to budget workshops in April.

The workshops provided the board and the public with an early opportunity to discuss the departments’ proposed budgets, special issues, staffing plans, accomplishments, work objectives, service levels and budget enhancement requests.

“Developing a balanced budget in each of the next several years will be complex, yet it is an opportunity to re-vision how the county is structured and how services are provided to better align expenditures with revenue,” said Mona Miyasato, county executive officer.

“This year’s budget theme of One County, One Future recognizes that to successfully address future challenges we will need to increase our coordination of services, building upon the strengths of individual county departments and community partners,” she said.

To review the proposed budget documents for the June hearings, visit http://countyofsb.org/budgetbook/2017. For information about the county government, visit www.CountyofSb.org.

— Gina DePinto for Santa Barbara County.


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