Pixel Tracker

Saturday, November 17 , 2018, 8:07 pm | Fog/Mist 59º


After Final Wrangling, Santa Barbara Supervisors Approve 2017-18 Budget

The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 Wednesday to approve the $1 billion budget for next year after wrangling how to cut $35 million.

Individual supervisors argued for and against putting more of the discretionary funding into infrastructure maintenance versus restoring some social services staff, and ultimately used some one-time money to fund ongoing jobs – positions that will presumably be back on the chopping block, since there is an expected $20 million deficit for the 2018-19 year.

There is less discretionary funding for the supervisors to allocate because they are funding the Northern Branch Jail, putting $9.1 million into the future operating fund next year, and have passed policies to give additional funding to the county Fire Department through a tax shift, and more funding to deferred maintenance needs.

Supervisors Joan Hartmann, Steve Lavagnino, Das Williams and Janet Wolf voted to approve the budget, and Peter Adam voted against it.

Most of the agreed-upon items can be viewed here in the recommended budget, which was developed after a series of public board workshops earlier this year.

On Wednesday, the board also approved additional funding for the Sheriff’s Department to provide court security (bailiffs) and staff the Isla Vista Foot Patrol; CalFresh; child welfare and foster care workers; economic strategic planning; and a per-capita increase in library funding, among other things.

The board also approved $9,000 to pay for office space rent for the Isla Vista Community Services District. Isla Vista residents haven’t yet approved the funding mechanism for the CSD, and if they don’t soon, the organization will dissolve.

Lavagnino had concerns about spending one-time money for ongoing expenses, and CEO Mona Miyasato said the county budget policy discourages doing so since “at one point you come to a cliff.”

She added, “That’s gotten us in trouble in the past.”

Departments know they will be making more cuts next year, however, so they will be planning accordingly, she said.

Lavagnino said he had a “precarious alliance” with other supervisors to fund roads and maintenance at the highest rate ever, which meant more to him, so he voted for the budget.

“We can deal with that in the long run,” he said of the one-time funding allocations.

The supervisors did not fund a Sheriff’s Department request specifically to keep the Santa Maria Branch Jail open, despite Santa Maria officials asking for it during Wednesday’s meeting.

Acting Santa Maria Police Chief Phil Hansen said he was appealing to the supervisors’ “sense of what is reasonable,” adding that closing the facility on Foster Road is more than an inconvenience for the North County agencies that have to drive people in custody down to Santa Barbara.

“It has a substantial negative impact on community members and the safety of the community,” because transporting officers can’t respond to calls for service, Hansen said.

Even with the Santa Maria Branch Jail open last year, Santa Maria Police Department officers made 700 trips south because the facility doesn’t accept female inmates, those that are combative or inmates with medical issues, he added.

Sheriff Bill Brown ultimately handles the department’s budget, after funding is allocated from the Board of Supervisors, but he previously said the branch jail will likely close next year if the board didn’t fund the addition $940,000 cost.

Construction recently started on the 376-bed Northern Branch Jail project, which is estimated to open in 2019.

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.

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.