County Board of Supervisors Budget Hearing Set for June 11

Santa Barbara County Recommended Budget (Courtesy)

Recommended Budget is $1.59 billion, and includes no service level reductions

The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors will hold budget hearings on June 11, 2024, beginning at 9 a.m. and, if needed, June 13, 2024, in the County Administration Building, Fourth Floor Hearing Room, 105 East Anapamu Street, Santa Barbara.  The purpose of the budget hearings is to provide the Board with an overview of the Recommended Budget, provide updates to department budgets since the April workshops, make any final adjustments, and ultimately adopt the Fiscal Year (FY) 2024-25 budget.  The public is encouraged to follow the proceedings and comment on the County’s spending priorities at the hearing.

The recommended operating budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2024-25 is $1.59 billion.  This is a 7.3% increase from the previous year and marks the sixth year in a row that service level reductions are not necessary.  The Recommended Budget supports a workforce of 4,763 full-time equivalent positions.

The theme for this year’s budget is Prudence and Progress which acknowledges that careful fiscal planning in prior years and continued restraint in developing the FY 2024-25 budget will enable the County to not only maintain its core operations, but continue to advance local programs, projects, and organizational goals. 

“The upcoming budget reflects our careful and forward-looking approach, keeping expenditures stable while we plan ahead,” said County Executive Officer Mona Miyasato. “We aim to uphold the vital services residents rely on, meet our key priorities and commitments, and proactively address the fiscal challenges we anticipate in the coming years.”

Key factors affecting the budget include high inflation, decline in property transactions, minimal growth or decline in tax revenues, rising costs of insurance, and an increase in County employees’ salaries and benefits.

The County’s past fiscal prudence, of setting aside ongoing General Fund revenue, has allowed budget gaps to be filled next year without a reduction of service and continuing progress on the Board’s top priorities.

“For the past several years the Board has made the decision to set aside ongoing funds in anticipation of economic uncertainty,” said Budget Director Paul Clementi.  “We are now facing a slowdown in our revenue growth, so releasing some of these funds in FY 2024-25 will allow us to continue operations without any reductions to service levels.”

The County’s General Fund Strategic Reserve or ‘rainy day fund’ will be fully funded at $45.6 million.  Keeping this reserve fully funded allows for fiscal stability during economic downturns, unexpected state and federal budget actions, and disaster events.

“This careful fiscal approach is one of the reasons why the County was recently assigned by S&P Global Ratings a ‘AAA’ credit rating, the highest rating afforded to public agencies,” added Clementi.

Top priorities for the Board include reducing homelessness and its impacts; improving housing opportunities; supporting disadvantaged and vulnerable populations; jail diversion and improving the efficiency of the criminal justice system; and investing in capital improvements and recreational opportunities.

“I am thankful that we are in a position where even in tight financial times, we can focus on delivering exceptional services so all in Santa Barbara County can enjoy a safe, healthy, and prosperous life,” said Miyasato. 

Progress Advancing Countywide Priorities for FY 2024-25 budget include:

  • Reducing homelessness and its impacts with interim and permanent supportive housing, including 174 non-congregate cabin units opened in 2024 with Hope Village in Santa Maria and La Posada in the Goleta Valley.  $35.4 million is allocated to providing housing and services to our unhoused community members.
  • Implementing housing programs from the Housing Element Update to prioritize workforce, farmworker, and affordable housing
  • Supporting disadvantaged and vulnerable populations– $525 million
    • Increased State funding for community access to food aid, cash assistance, and medical care
    • County’s Crisis Stabilization Unit will reopen and add eight crisis intervention beds
  • Jail diversion and improving the efficiency of the criminal justice system – $21 million
    • Six full-time positions added for diversion and holistic defense roles
    • Coordination of County departments and partners to offer crisis outreach and intervention
  • Advancing climate resiliency and sustainability by finalizing the Climate Action Plan and expanding the County’s Electric Vehicle (EV) fleet and infrastructure
  • Capital improvements include the anticipated completion of the Regional Fire Communications Center, Santa Barbara Courthouse roof replacement, RV park renovations at Cachuma Lake, and Santa Claus Lane Streetscape
  • Increase trails and recreation opportunities including the Modoc Multi-use Path connecting the City of Santa Barbara to the unincorporated Goleta Valley, repairs to Goleta Beach Park including parking lot and lawn repair, and the Lake Cachuma amphitheater renovations
  • Focus on Inclusion with funding for translation and interpretation services, a Diversity Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Coordinator, and funding a third cycle of County of Santa Barbara Racial Justice Grants

County Executive Office budget staff presented a five-year forecast and budget development report in December 2023 that kicked off the FY 2024-25 budget cycle. Budget workshops were subsequently held in April to provide the Board an opportunity to review the preliminary budget, discuss impacts and funding opportunities, receive public input, and provide the County Executive Officer direction on policy issues or items for consideration prior to completion of the Recommended Budget.

The public is encouraged to follow the proceedings via the County’s websiteYouTube or on cable TV channel 20. To watch in Spanish, Cox and Comcast subscribers can enable SAP in their language settings, or watch in Spanish via the County’s YouTube español.  The Public may participate virtually, or in person at the County Board Hearing Room in Santa Barbara or Santa Maria, information about Public Participation can be found on the Clerk of the Board’s website.

Review the budget hearing materials here: 2024 to 2025 | Santa Barbara County, CA – Official Website (countyofsb.org)

A video highlighting the Fiscal Year 24-25 Recommended Budget can be found here: FY 24-25 Recommended Budget Highlights (youtube.com)

To watch the budget hearing live go to Channel 20 on Cox or Comcast cable TV, www.youtube.com/user/CSBTV20 or https://sbcounty.granicus.com/player/camera/4?publish_id=35.

For information about the County of Santa Barbara government organization, go to www.CountyofSB.org.

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