Proposed County Budget Includes Increase and Targets Crime and Homelessness

The $6.26 billion fiscal year 2019 recommended budget presented to the San Diego County Board of Supervisors today represents a more than 8 percent increase from this year's spending.

The board voted unanimously to receive the budget prepared by Chief Administrative Officer Helen Robbins-Meyer on the third day of budget hearings Wednesday. 

It will determine county spending for the fiscal year beginning July 1 on June 26 at 2 p.m.

Robbins-Meyer said the projected increase does not represent ``spending wildly,'' but is rather a result of favorable economic conditions such as a projected 4.7 percent increase in assessed property values.

``This is an exciting budget,'' she said. ``We find ourselves in a strong economy and a state (government) that is adding money to its rainy day fund and not taking money from local governments.

''The largest share of the proposed budget, 33.6 percent, goes to health and human services: $2.1 billion. Just over 30 percent, or $1.9 billion, would go to public safety.

The largest share of proposed spending in all categories would go toward salaries, which account for $2.23 billion of the total budget.

That includes an increase of 167 full-time equivalent positions, Robbins-Meyer said.

Aiding the homeless is among the target areas of the proposed budget. For example, the spending plan would pay for a pilot program in which teams of medics and mental health professionals are called to areas where homeless people congregate to assist them, rather than having police triage their needs.

The budget would also pay for an increase in the number of public health nurses to administer immunizations and tend to other medical needs.

Other proposals include two new Live Well Centers in Oceanside and Southeast San Diego. Those centers offer medical and other services under one roof.``The budget, to me, reflects fiscal responsibility,'' Supervisor Dianne Jacob said. ``And that is a hallmark of this Board of Supervisors and this administration.

''Several members of the public who spoke praised the county for spending on a new addiction treatment program, which includes restorative justice programs, but some said more needs to be done in order to alleviate homelessness and a lack of affordable housing.

``I retired several years ago and what I thought was going to be the beginning of my golden years turned out to be my worst nightmare,'' said Barbara Pinto. ``That was looking for affordable housing.

''The Barrio Logan resident said she was forced to move three times in three years due to rising rents.

Eliminating red tape and using surplus county-owned property for new housing are among the county's plans for addressing housing affordability and homelessness.

Photo Credit: Jack Cronin

Source: CNS

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