The San Diego County Board of Supervisors Tuesday unanimously approved a $6.21 billion annual budget that includes more money for mental health treatment, aid for the homeless and juvenile justice.
Broken down, the fiscal year 2019-20 spending plan includes $2 billion for public safety, $2.3 billion for health and human services, $1.3 billion for finance and general government and $651 million for land use and environment.
Ebony Shelton, director of the Office of Financial Planning, said there is also more money for additional law enforcement, personnel in the Health and Human Services department, emergent public health issues, public assistance and for an environmental grant writer. The county can also offer wildfire prevention incentives to homeowners, more immigrant services and emergency housing for people in need, she added.
Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said that with its emphasis on better social services, the budget is “strong step in the right direction,” and shows that county officials listened to the public. Earlier this month, supervisors heard from residents who asked for money for immigrant services, more affordable housing and support for seniors.
Board Chairwoman Dianne Jacob said the budget shows that “bold ideas are being turned into action.” Jacob said she’s pleased with the additions to the budget and more staff, but emphasized it requires results and holding people accountable.
She praised Chief Administrative Office Helen Robbins-Meyer and her colleagues for crunching the numbers so that the county can make a lasting impact on overall quality of life, but also said there are limitations on programs and services.
“A lack of discipline is what gets a government into trouble,” Jacob said.
Supervisor Greg Cox said that when he joined the board in 1995, the county was in bad financial shape, with crumbling facilities. The latest budget reflects the changing realities, he added.
Supervisor Jim Desmond said his district, especially in unincorporated areas, is getting $23 million worth of capital projects, including fire stations and a new river park.
He added that he’s glad the budget contains an additional $21 million for pension stabilization. Total county pension costs are expected to increase $933 million by fiscal early 2025, and “we need to put real money into the future,” Desmond said.
—City News Service
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