The Board of Supervisors Tuesday unanimously scheduled public hearings to begin June 1 on the proposed $5.4 billion San Diego County budget for the 2015-16 fiscal year.
The plan envisions a 6.1 percent spending increase over the current fiscal year.
According to a staff report, spending in the county’s Public Safety Group — which includes the Sheriff’s and Probation departments and District Attorney’s Office — would rise $62.1 million, or 3.8 percent, from this year.
The budget for the Health and Human Services Agency would increase $103.3 million, or 5.4 percent. County officials say about half of the increase stems from a higher caseload for in-home supportive services.
The Land Use Group, which includes public works and planning, would see spending go up $6.4 million, or 1.5 percent. Community Services — with libraries and parks — would see a $2.9 million hike, or 0.9 percent. A $17.4 million jump, or 4.5 percent, is planned for Finance and General Government, thanks to maintenance costs and one-time technology expenses.
The county’s spending on capital expenses, which fluctuates wildly from year to year depending on when projects are ready to come off the drawing board, would climb $55.5 million, or 66.2 percent.
The staff report says the county has received $54.9 million in additional funding for its crime lab and $50.6 million to upgrade the regional communications system.
Chief Administrative Officer Helen Robbins-Meyer said the financial future looks good, but $2.3 billion in pension debt, drought-related water use restrictions, stormwater runoff mandates and other issues will present challenges. The pension liability is likely to lead to increased contributions in the future for both the county government and employees, she said.
“There is uncertainty — lots of it — but overall the improved economy is allowing us to move forward in addressing some of the pent-up demands and needs of this community,” Robbins-Meyer said. “The fiscal year ahead is bright, and we will continue to measure and monitor our risks and hold ourselves accountable for finding solutions.
Other risks outlined by the CAO include rising medical and mental health needs in jails, increased homelessness, possible participation in a football stadium project and growing costs and litigation associated with elections and referendums.
The county, which budgets in two-year cycles, also projects spending $5.1 billion in 2016-17, according to a staff report.
Public hearings on the spending plan are set to begin June 1.
—City News Service
>> Subscribe to Times of San Diego’s free daily email newsletter! Click hereFollow Us: