After much haggling, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors on Wednesday approved a $965 million budget that includes $400,000 to fund a feasibility study of alternative energy sources.
The county will study Community Choice Aggregation, which would allow it to purchase and pull power in bulk from electricity suppliers, including alternative and renewable energy sources.
Several other states and communities in California have adopted a Community Choice Aggregation approach.
“It’s time for Santa Barbara County to take a stand in favor of a clean and healthy future and fully fund the feasibility study,” said Owen Bailey, executive director of the Environmental Defense Center.
The allocation was just one of nearly 30 budget adjustments totaling $3.3 million that the county made during a nearly 10-hour budget hearing on Wednesday.
“It’s past time we move on to renewable energy,” said Amy Anderson, representing the Santa Barbara County Action Network. “There’s widespread support of it.”
The budget vote was 4-1. Only Fourth District Supervisor Peter Adam opposed the budget, suggesting instead that the county spend $7.9 million on parks and building maintenance.
“We’re not doing an adequate job with maintenance,” Adam said.
He received no support from his colleagues for those suggestions, although Carbajal did vote to set aside $200,000 for parks maintenance.
Instead, the supervisors increased county library funding by $391,000 annually, bringing the total to $3.4 million.
“I believe the libraries in our community are unbelievably excellent,” said Patricia MacKinnon, board member for the Friends of Montecito Library.
MacKinnon said the Montecito Library gets 50,000 visits per year and loans out 120,000 items annually.
The board also allocated nearly $500,000 to the Isla Vista Center and $145,000 to fund a permanent public information officer for the County CEO’s office.
The supervisors also agreed to fund three park ranger positions for Goleta and Arroyo Burro Beaches, and to fund an environmental attorney position for $160,000 to deal with possible oil spill litigation, $121,000 to implement Laura’s Law, $120,000 to New Beginnings Counseling Center and $100,000 toward water-saving measures.
— Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.