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$5B County Budget Proposal Presented To Board Of Supervisors

A closeup is shown of the entrance to the County Administration Building in downtown San Diego, June 27, 2015.
Michael Schuerman
A closeup is shown of the entrance to the County Administration Building in downtown San Diego, June 27, 2015.

A $5.35 billion proposed budget for San Diego County was presented to the Board of Supervisors Tuesday for the next fiscal year.

"I'm proud to say the budget is balanced, fiscally responsible and focused on continuous improvement and stewardship of public resources," Chief Administrative Officer Helen Robbins-Meyer said.

While the total budget for fiscal year 2016-17 is 1.2 percent below the previous year, that number is deceiving because of a decline in spending for the Health and Human Services Agency that resulted from an agreement transferring collective bargaining responsibilities for In-Home Supportive Services to the state, Robbins-Meyer said.

"County services are not being cut, in fact, quite the opposite," she said. "This year's budget targets the safety net for our most vulnerable populations."

The Health and Human Services Agency is budgeted for an extra $88 million — with more than half going to a planned expansion of contracted community services and the rest for hiring 240 employees.

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"We're enhancing support for individuals with mental illness and looking to provide stability for the homeless mentally ill," Robbins-Meyer said. "We're increasing services for veterans and we're adding diversion programs to reduce the number of young people involved with the juvenile justice system and helping victims of human trafficking."

The budget blueprint includes spending boosts for most areas of county government to cover pay raises, higher retirement costs and additional staffing. The county expects to boost employment to a total of 17,378 employees.

"It's really impressive to see the additional personnel that are coming in, particularly in the Health and Human Services Agency to further bolster a lot of the programs and services we run," Supervisor Greg Cox said.

Spending on capital projects is set to drop by nearly half, or $67.5 million. County spending on infrastructure construction varies widely from year-to-year, depending on where various projects are in the pipeline.

"I want to thank the staff for the great job," Supervisor Dave Roberts said. "I know how much work putting a budget together is and trying to have competing priorities with scarce resources."

The county uses a two-year budgeting procedure for its operational plan. Staff recommended a $5 billion spending plan for the 2017-18 fiscal year.

Public hearings on the spending plan are scheduled to begin June 13, with final budget deliberations by the board set for June 28.