June 12, 2014 (San Diego) Budgets are not just financial documents, but political documents. San Diego’s County Board of Supervisors is holding hearings this week on the Budget for the 2014-15 fiscal year. The Budget summary document, as well as the extended documents do tell us a lot of the priorities for the Board of Supervisors. A link to where you can find all the documents is here.
The Budget reflects these priorities well, but before we go into them, it is important to see the County Organizational chart, which also points out to how many departments the County has. While we have a large amount of money. The County has a budget of $4.8 Billion dollars, it is not all in a single pot of money.
There are further divisions, we can see priorities in preparing for the Silver Tsunami and Public Safety, both received an increase in funding from last year.
During last year Public Safety received $ 1,469.4 million dollars which translated to 30.3% of the total budget. This year they are getting $ 1,540.8 million dollars, which translates to 31.0%. This reflects the increased importance of this area for the current Board of Supervisors, in particular Supervisor Dianne Jacob who has been pushing the creation of the County Fire Authority and strengthening public safety. This is now a reality, but it needs funding.
Health and Human Services last year had 1,928.9 million dollars allocated to it, which translated to 39.8%. This year we are seeing 1,997.4 million dollars, which translates to 40.1%. This also reflects the County getting ready for an aging population that will need a variety of County Services. Among them are veteran services, child care, and a slew of senior centers as well.
This is the big picture. When one looks at more detailed areas of the budget, there is a clear emphasis in both capital improvements, as small as that area of the budget truly is, as well as public safety. While the San Diego County Fire Authority has not seen a total increase in it’s funding, it does:
“Provide regional leadership with the full implementation of the County’s Fire and Life Safety Reorganization Report establishing CSA 135 and continue collaboration with other fire agencies to improve overall efficiencies with consolidation and sharing of resources.”
Moreover, it does see a decrease in funding due to a:
“Decrease of $7.4 million is due to a decrease of $4.6 million in Services and Supplies associated with the completion of the Dead, Dying and Diseased tree grant program, a decrease of $2.5 million primarily due to the completion of one-time projects and a decrease of $0.3 million associated with the transfer of funds to CSA 135 for contracted fire and emergency medical services. “ Some of this must be understood in context. Removing the diseased and dying trees came from a Federal grant and this is almost complete, therefore no grant.
Probations, due to the State Prison realignment has seen an increased in funding as well, and so has the Sheriff’s Office. This is not something that the County has a choice, since these prisoners will be transferred to the County regardless. This puts pressure on the County at both law enforcement and probations side of the house, as well as actual prison beds.
At the same time Capital Improvement is funding the Boulevard Fire Station, the Pine Valley Sheriffs Substation as well as the Rancho San Diego Sheriff’s Station. . They all come from same capital improvement area of the budget that will also acquire land for libraries to remodel libraries, and fund parks, This is 59.1 Million, translating to 1.2% of the budget. All these translate to a better quality of life for County Residents.
The County is also in the process of funding a new Women’s Detention Facility, that will provide 832 beds. The first phase should be finished by the end of 2015, and provide the County with a new facility. The current facility is expected to be depopulated by the Summer of 2014 with the transfer of the current population. This new facility will require an additional 138 staff. This is also contingent on the transfer of funds from the State of California AB 900: The Public Safety and Offender
Rehabilitation Services Act of 2007.
The County of San Diego does operate with both operational and strategic reserves. It is a rare County that does that. So when you look at budgets, remember, they are both political and financial documents, but spending is not just as simple as a just a large pot of money.
Categories: County of San Diego