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San Diego County Budget Hearings Begin

Audio

Aired 6/6/11

San Diego County Budget hearings begin today. The public cannot weigh in until Tuesday afternoon.

San Diego County Supervisors start hearings on next year’s budget today.

CEO Walt Eckard’s message to the board of supervisors is that county government is facing new realities. He said revenues are expected to decrease for the foreseeable future.

The budget will be less than $4.9 billion -- that’s 2 percent less than last year.

Clare Crawford, head of the Center for Policy Initiatives, a think tank on issues affecting working families, said a CPI analysis suggests the county has a reserve fund of more than $2 billion.

“When you look at the county, which provides such important services for people who are losing their jobs right now,” she said.” It’s good for people to understand the kind of resources the county may have to help fill those gaps for people.”

Crawford said most of California’s major counties maintain a healthy reserve of about 40 percent of expenditures, whereas San Diego County has a fund balance closer to 60 percent. She said demand for social safety net services like CalFresh, formerly called food stamps, is on the increase, while the county is cutting staff to provide those services.

Eckard reported the county has done extra outreach and enrolled an extra 26,000 children and seniors in CalFresh.

Health and Social Services will make up almost 40 percent of the county’s proposed budget, a slight increase over last year. Public safety makes up almost 30 percent, with an increase of more than $100 million over last year.

County spending on land use will shrink, as work on the General Plan Update wraps up.

The county plans to complete work on its new operations building in Kearny Mesa and start work next year on a new sheriff’s station in Rancho San Diego.

Public hearings on the county’s budget plan start Tuesday afternoon.

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