The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors approved $717,133 in additional funds to the Sheriff’s Office this week to make up for the lower-than-budgeted payments for city law enforcement contracts.
Last year, four cities disputed the significant cost increases proposed for their law enforcement contracts with the Sheriff’s Office.
City representatives had called the proposed rates “not justified or sustainable,” Noozhawk North County Editor Janene Scully reported, and contended that the Sheriff’s Office used a new cost methodology that was inconsistent with their contract terms.
The proposed cost increase would have cities paying $4.1 million more for patrol hours in 2022-23 than they did in 2018-19.
The law enforcement contract costs for the four cities this year total $20.2 million, and cities agreed to fund $19.2 million of that, according to the county.
That leaves a Sheriff’s Office budget shortfall of $717,113 for the current year, which the county will fill using Proposition 172 funds, which are from a statewide sales tax to fund public safety.
The Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the budget revision as part of the administrative agenda at Tuesday’s meeting.
Fourth District Supervisor Bob Nelson made a few comments on the issue before the vote.
“These contracts are troubling to me,” he said.
Nelson said the Sheriff’s Office fully staffs the positions for city contracts while there are “many shifts in unincorporated areas that go unfilled.”
He also said the county is “subsidizing these cities with these contracts” and that contracts should be “cost neutral” to the county.
Buellton will pay $2,677,571 for this year’s law enforcement contract with the county; Carpinteria will pay $5,056,981; Goleta will pay $9,499,341; and Solvang will pay $2,316,107.