The Board of Supervisors heard demands Monday for improved child care and better trails during a brief session on the county’s proposed $7.15 billion budget.
Monday’s event, which included a short video presentation and budget preview, was the first to take the public’s pulse on the proposed spending plan for the 2022-23 fiscal year.
Although only a few people have commented, a second hearing is scheduled for Thursday at 5:30 p.m., when the public can comment in person or by phone. People can also comment online through e-comments until the budget hearings close.
Helen Robbins-Meyer, county chief executive, said the budget is the second in a row that reflects the council’s vision.
Along with better social service programs, “we continue to provide a wide range of services that our constituents trust us to provide on a daily basis,” Robbins-Meyer added.
“Either way, this budget represents another big step forward,” for county government, said board chairman Nathan Fletcher.
Ebony Shelton, assistant general manager, said during a budget preview that there are potential risks to the county’s finances, including economic changes, pension costs and inflation. However, the county is well prepared to meet the challenges, she said.
Shelton also said a revised OAC budget will be released on June 24.
Courtney Baltiyskyy, a manager with the YMCA’s Child Care Resource Service, said her organization “applaud(s) a local government that feels the urgency to support all children, families and child care professionals of children”.
The county’s pandemic emergency funding “has been a critical and appreciated step forward,” Batiyskyy said, also speaking on behalf of the Children First Collective of San Diego.
Ten percent of child care centers and 5% of home providers across the county have closed, while child care remains very expensive and waiting lists are long, Baltiyskyy said.
Child care providers who want to grow but don’t know where to start, due to so many barriers, Batiyskyy said. She said others are looking forward to exploring sustainable funding to help families access child care.
Erin Hogeboom, San Diego representative for Every Child and Children First Collective San Diego, praised the board for being responsive on child care issues, but said more needs to be done.
“We can’t let these families fall through the cracks any longer,” Hogeboom said, urging the county to invest in First 5 San Diego, a nonprofit that promotes the well-being of children from prenatal through at the age of 5. show the kids in our area that you appreciate them.”
Susie Murphy, executive director of the San Diego Mountain Biking Association, said her group supports the county’s budget recommendations for parks and recreation, including the development of the county’s Alpine Park. Providing more trails “is a worthy effort,” Murphy added.
At Monday’s hearing, one person criticized the county’s budget priorities as being out of step with the needs of the public, while another pointed to problems with wildfire prevention proposals, including land clearing vegetation.
In early May, the county released its recommended budget, with significant investments in mental health, homelessness, equity, racial justice and climate change.
The budget would add more than 1,000 employees in declared “priority areas” and maintain essential public safety, land use, health and social services, a county statement said.
The total recommended budget is 1.1% lower than the budget approved by the County Board of Supervisors last year, primarily because many one-time costs for the COVID-19 response are no longer needed.
Supervisors must approve a new budget by June 30. The council heard presentations from county departments on May 19 and 20.
The budget includes a recommendation to add $71.8 million and 115 new positions for the county’s efforts to transform its behavioral health system, from crisis response to prevention, continuing care and daily health care . The funds will support mobile crisis response teams – made up of mental health experts rather than law enforcement officers – to respond to someone in crisis.
“I am also encouraged by the investments in mobile crisis response teams, homeless shelters and new affordable housing, but there is still work to be done to ensure that we maximize our resources to the greater good of the residents of San Diego County,” Fletcher said earlier. in the budget process.
“Over the coming weeks, we will be engaging with individuals, neighborhood groups and other community stakeholders to get their feedback and determine if we can improve on this very strong 2022-2023 budget.”
The increased investment in the new recommended budget includes $11.9 million in one-time stimulus funds to develop affordable housing to reduce homelessness. Another $10 million increase is planned for partnerships with cities to purchase shelters and housing for people.
As part of justice reform, more than $130 million is being invested in health care services at county jails to help offenders, and another $6.2 million for a Youth Development Academy designed to help young people who have committed serious offenses by giving them more intensive and longer-term care. behavioral health, rehabilitation and skill building services.
County Probation will use $1 million for de-escalation training for its staff, supporting the youth they supervise. The Office of the Public Defender will add $21.8 million and 90 employees.
According to the recommendations of the budget, an Office of Sustainability and Environmental Justice will be funded to the tune of $3.5 million and more than $25 million will be invested to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in unprotected communities. incorporated, including $1 million to support electric vehicle charging stations.
Nearly $60 million will be spent on other environmental improvements, including $40 million to address stormwater issues, $16.3 million for the multi-species conservation program and $3.4 million to improve the Tijuana River Valley. More than 3,500 trees meant to trap more than 178,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per year will be planted in the county.
The recommended budget also includes $2.9 million for land for a future public safety facility on Interstate 15 and State Route 76, and $250,000 to begin plans and design for a new fire station. by Jacumba.
Additionally, the San Diego County Fire Protection District is adding $2.2 million to protect communities and reduce wildfire risk in unincorporated areas through vegetation management by roadside and the creation of firebreaks. Public Health Services will add 71 new positions.
Supervisor Nora Vargas was attending a National Counties Association event and was absent from Monday’s hearing.