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Friday, February 15 , 2019, 10:26 pm | Fair 48º

 
 
 
 

Santa Barbara County Revenues Expected to Rise in 2016-17 Fiscal Year

Proposed budget shows all general-fund departments except Public Works with funding increases

A drop in state gas tax revenues will impact the Santa Barbara County Public Works Department budget, which has ongoing roadwork projects all over the county including a sewer main replacement and pavement work on La Ramada Drive near Goleta.
A drop in state gas tax revenues will impact the Santa Barbara County Public Works Department budget, which has ongoing roadwork projects all over the county including a sewer main replacement and pavement work on La Ramada Drive near Goleta. (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)

Santa Barbara County expects revenues to increase by 4.8 percent for the 2016-17 fiscal year, with budgets increasing for all the general-fund departments except Public Works, since state gas tax monies have dropped.

The $1 billion recommended budget includes $46.9 million increase in revenues, and a 3-percent increase in expenditures ($28.9 million) for the coming fiscal year, which starts July 1.

The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors held budget workshops in April and is meeting in two weeks to discuss final budget decisions — with three meetings on June 13, 15 and 17, all starting at 9 a.m. at the board hearing room at 105 E. Anapamu St. in Santa Barbara.

Departments asked for $17.3 million in ongoing funding expansions, including some new positions, and $11.8 million in one-time funding.

Budget expansions will offset all the proposed cuts except the loss of state gas tax to the Public Works Department’s road operations. That department will see a 6-percent drop from the previous year’s budget, to $101.8 million.

The state contributed $2.7 million less in road funding for the coming year, and the county plans to use general fund money to partially make up for the dip.

“If no relief is provided by the state, this is an unsustainable situation for local roads, faced by all local governments in California,” the budget's executive summary states.

The proposed closure of the Santa Maria Branch Jail, which Sheriff Bill Brown put forward to save the $1 million operating cost, likely won’t happen since the county plans to cover that expense with unallocated general fund money as part of the budget expansions.

Three of the county public safety labor bargaining unit contracts already have expired, and three more agreements will end on July 3, leaving future salary-and-benefit costs up in the air as the county prepares its budget for the 2016-17 year.

Santa Barbara County will have 4,350 full-time employees next year, which is above the 2007-08 level, according to the recommended budget. Click to view larger
Santa Barbara County will have 4,350 full-time employees next year, which is above the 2007-08 level, according to the recommended budget. (Santa Barbara County photo)

Pension costs are expected to be mostly stable, but employee health care is the fastest-growing cost within salaries and benefits, with a 11.4-percent increase for the 2016-17 year, according to the county’s budget book.

The Board of Supervisors has already dedicated some of the tax revenue growth, on an ongoing basis, to the fire district tax shift and increased maintenance funding.

The tax shift is increasing amounts of property tax revenues – 25 percent of growth – until the fire district gets 17 percent of property tax revenue.

Maintenance funding has a base of $2.8 million plus 18 percent of unallocated discretionary revenues, which will be $2.5 million for the coming fiscal year.

The impending ongoing cost of operating the new 376-bed Northern Branch Jail isn’t discussed much in the budget.

The supervisors have been setting aside millions of dollars into an operating fund to save up for the $18 million-per-year cost, but will probably empty – or nearly empty – that account to pay for the extra construction costs.

The 2016-17 budget includes another $7.6 million for that fund, bringing it to $18.6 million total.

To read the recommended budget documents, click here. 

Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

The per-employee cost is estimated to increase 2.5 percent for the 2016-17 budget to $131,743. Click to view larger
The per-employee cost is estimated to increase 2.5 percent for the 2016-17 budget to $131,743.  (Santa Barbara County photo)

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