The Morning Report
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Call it the year of the comeback.
San Diego County’s proposed $5.06 billion budget includes lots of attempts to restore funding to programs that had been slashed during the economic downturn, and to expand others.
The County Board of Supervisors wants to give more money to the Long-Term Care Ombudsman program, which supports residents in facilities like nursing homes and investigates abuse; it wants to expand the In-Home Outreach Team for residents who struggle with serious mental illness but may also be resistant to mental health services and it wants to return one of its most controversial grant programs to full strength.
Overall, the proposed budget includes $80.5 million more than the current plan.
Here’s a breakdown of where the biggest chunks of revenue are coming from, and where they’re being doled out.
Where the Money Comes From
The county breaks revenue sources into seven categories, the four largest of which are state and federal revenues, fees/fines/charges for county services and property and other taxes.
All of those categories, with the exception of federal revenues, are up from the last fiscal year (even state revenue had a 0.1 percent boost).
State and federal revenues pour $1.4 billion and $816 million, respectively, into the budget. That’s a lot – and it serves as a good reminder that one of the county’s primary mandates is to operate as a regional arm of the California government.
Meanwhile, revenues from property and other taxes are up 5.7 percent over last fiscal year, and account for more than $1 billion of the budget.
Who coughed up the most in property taxes to the county last fiscal year? San Diego Gas & Electric, which paid more than $87 million. Southern California Edison came in a distant second, with nearly $36 million.
That category also includes things like the Transient Occupancy Tax, Real Property Transfer Tax and just plain old Sales and Use Tax.
Sales and Use Tax is projected to account for $24.4 million in the next fiscal year, up 2.1 percent. That money is mostly taken from sales tax on items sold in unincorporated parts of San Diego County.
Where the Money Goes
County officials are cautiously optimistic about the economy, and the budget proposal includes both new and reinvigorated services across many agencies and departments. And the list of services getting funded represents just how mammoth the county’s reach is.
Don’t worry though, they still found the money for that Huonglongbing disease study (it’s a threat to the county’s citrus trees). Other recipients that made the cut: $50 million to replace the Sheriff’s Crime Lab, $9.7 million for a library in Borrego Springs and a proposal to fund 24-hour security at the new Waterfront Park at the County Administration Center.
The two areas that would, as usual, overwhelmingly receive the largest amounts of funding in the budget are health and human services ($1.9 billion) and public safety ($1.6 billion). Nearly 80 percent of county staff work in those two sectors.
Public safety is slated to receive an $85.8 million increase over the last fiscal year. One of the County’s priorities on that front is to open the San Diego County Women’s Detention and Re-entry Facility and the East Mesa Re-entry Facility, which come with a combined one-time price tag of at least $11 million in opening fees related to plus building, maintenance, upkeep and other costs.
But officials said that much of the increase to the public safety budget will go toward already existing employees and agreements that were made during negotiations for cost-of-living increases and other benefits.
Salaries and benefits account for 37.7 percent (or $1.9 billion) of all of the county’s expenditures. Services and supplies, meaning non-personnel operating expenses like IT and office supplies, make up another 36.2 percent (about $1.8 billion).
“Despite a slow-paced recovery, unemployment now is declining, the region’s housing market has stabilized, county revenues are on the mend,” Tracy Sandoval, one of five general managers on the county’s executive team, said in an email, “and the overall outlook for our local economy is positive.”
The Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote on the proposed budget June 24 or 25.