A proposed $5.06 billion county of San Diego budget that includes a slight spending increase was presented to the Board of Supervisors Tuesday, although the county’s top administrator said the restoration of some previously cut services is not a sign that the local economic recovery is complete.
Total expenditures for the fiscal year set to begin July 1 would be up 1.6 percent over the current budget.
Spending is set to rise for:
- Public safety, 5.6 percent, or $85.8 million
- Land-use spending, by 4.4 percent, and
- Community services, by 7.7 percent.
Health and Human Services, however, would see a 4.8 percent, or $96.5 million, drop, though the county also committed itself Tuesday to a project to add families struggling with Alzheimer’s disease.
Chief Administrative Officer Helen Robbins-Meyer said the proposed budget reflected the first revenue increase in many years, and that the county would remain able to maintain prudent reserves.
“We’re able to restore a little bit of the programs over the last several years,” Robbins-Meyer said. “But again, I want to make sure everyone understands that we’re not rich.”
County expenses for capital projects can vary significantly from year to year based on scheduling, and a sharp increase of 39.7 percent was recommended for the next fiscal year.
Proposed capital projects include:
- $50 million toward the sheriff’s crime lab
- $10 million for the Multiple Species Conservation Program
- $9.8 million for the Borrego Springs Community Library
- $1.5 million for Guajome Regional Park electrical, water and sewer projects
- $600,000 for solar installation at Sweetwater Regional Park.
The proposal recommends adding 410 staff years across several departments, which would push the number of county employees to more than 17,000.
Robbins-Meyer said part of the budget development process was assessing and managing risks, such as slow economic recovery.
“We can’t let the pent-up demand that has been building during the economic downturn cause us to move too quickly,” she said. “We have to prioritize any replacement spending, as well as any new program growth.”
She said other risks were current and future debt, including a pension deficit and costs related to prisoner realignment, growing mental health needs, the potential for wildfires, homeless services and juvenile probation cuts.
The county’s two-year “Operational Plan” includes a $4.85 billion budget for the 2015-16 fiscal year.
Hearings on details of the plan are set to begin June 9, and an adoption vote is expected Aug. 5.
– City News Service
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