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County Supervisors Tentatively Approve $4.8 Billion Budget

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors tentatively approved a $4.8 billion operational plan for the next fiscal year today, giving the county the authority to continue spending until its budget is formally adopted in August.

The county is required to approve a budget within 45 days of the end of the fiscal year. Today's approval gave the county the authority to start spending July 1, said Donald Steuer, the county's chief financial officer. The budget is set for an adoption vote Aug. 7.

The spending plan represents a 1.3 percent reduction from the current fiscal year's $4.86 billion budget. A further drop is expected the following year, for which a $4.64 billion budget was proposed.

The equivalent of about 16,010 full-time employees would be funded in 2012-13, up 323.5 from this year, and 16,114 the next year.

"The budget before you is balanced. Public services are maintained and our credit is good,'' Chief Administrative Officer Walter Ekard told the board.

"We're building like crazy, we're protecting our region's most vulnerable and we're innovating each and every day for the purpose of better serving our three million customers.''

The plan included $1.5 billion in each of the next two years for public safety, which includes the Sheriff's Department, District Attorney, Public Defender, Probation and Medical Examiner.

Increased public safety funding was due in part to the implementation of Assembly Bill 109, the Public Safety Realignment, which shifted the responsibility for some low-level offenders from the state to counties.

"Realignment of the criminal justice system is, despite the outstanding work of our local law enforcement professionals, a large, continuing concern,'' Ekard said.

Supervisor Pam Slater-Price said she was opposed to the state's "prisoner dumping.''

"One of the principle duties of local government is law enforcement and we're working hard to maintain our excellence in that regard while we're still facing these challenges that were not anticipated,'' Slater-Price said.

Also under the plan, the Health and Human Services Agency would get $1.9 billion in 2012-13 and Community Services -- departments like animal services, libraries and the Registrar of Voters -- would be funded at $305.5 million.

Land Use, which includes Planning and Land Use; Agriculture, Weights & Measure; and Parks and Recreation, would receive $391.3 million next year.

Financial and general government operations would be funded at $340.8 million and spending on capital projects would be $48.5 million, according to the plan.

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