$ 7.36 billion county budget highlights investment in mental health, homelessness

San Diego County’s $ 7.36 billion budget for next fiscal year includes hundreds of millions of dollars to address behavioral health, homelessness and environmental issues.

District supervisors on Tuesday, June 28, unanimously approved the plan for the fiscal year, which begins on July 1, and it represents an increase in $ 200 million above the draft budget published last month.

“Today we are approving a budget that I believe is the largest investment in some of the most pressing needs in the history of our region,” said President Nathan Fletcher.

The budget increases spending by $ 126 million, or 1.5 percent, this year and adds 1,000 new employees, said County Chief Financial Officer Ebony Shelton. This is a cancellation of the proposals in the draft budget, which would reduce costs by 1.1% compared to last year.

“We have made the largest investment ever in behavioral health services in the history of our county,” Fletcher said in a statement. “Unprecedented investment in programs to support the vulnerable San Digans. Significant funding to improve health services and staff in our county prisons. In addition, we are investing more in combating climate change, tackling rainwater problems and planting more trees throughout the county; we keep our communities safe by funding public safety; protection of neighborhoods from the dangers of forest fires; and building more affordable housing. “

About half of Increase funding by $ 200 million between the project and the final budget comes from a new negotiated employment agreement with county workers, with an additional $ 97.6 million dedicated to that contract, Shelton said.

Other additions include extras $ 29.8 million in additional funds will cover capital projects in parks and recreation facilities, including Lake Lindo in Lakeside, San Luis Rey River Park and rehabilitation plans for Mira Mesa Epicenter, a café for teens and a cultural center. The budget also provides $ 8 million for improvements to the Chula Vista Bayfront. And it adds $ 16 million to a twin-engine firefighting helicopter, along with $ 2.2 million to reduce the risk of forest fires by clearing bushes and building fire breaks.

Public safety spending has risen a quarter of a billion dollars from the current year’s budget, according to the final version, from about $ 2.25 billion for the current year to $ 2.5 billion next year. That boost includes $ 130 million in health care spending in county jails, which have been under scrutiny in recent years because of the high death rate in custody.

Health and human services costs have fallen by about $ 27 million due to the elimination of some one-off funds for a pandemic. Despite overall redundancies, the board approved new investments in behavioral health and other social services.

The new budget reflects the board’s ongoing efforts to reform mental health treatment and substance abuse, with an additional $ 71.8 million and 115 new items for behavioral health programs that emphasize crisis prevention and support, supervisors said. .

Instead of letting patients with mental illness or drug abuse travel by bicycle and get out of the emergency department, the board aims to “really build a broad-based care system that recognizes the very real nature of mental health that changes our approach to addiction to a desire to make people better and give them the opportunity to live a life that is prosperous and stable, ”Fletcher said.

The budget also adds money to tackle homelessness and supports resources for children, families and the elderly. That includes $ 11.9 million in one-off incentive funds to develop affordable housing and $ 10 million to work with cities for new shelters, according to Fletcher’s office. The budget adds 100 new positions for child welfare services, another 100 staff positions for the Calfresh and Medi-Cal programs and 60 new positions for home services for the elderly and people who are blind or disabled.

The budget also slightly increased the group’s land and environmental spending from about $ 615 million last year to $ 630 million. The Expenditure Plan adds about $ 60 million for environmental improvements, including $ 40 million for rainwater mitigation, $ 16.3 million for the Multi-Species Conservation Program, and $ 3.4 million for the Tijuana Valley Improvement, which faces ongoing water quality problems from untreated wastewater flows across the border with Mexico.

“One of the things I’m most excited about in this budget is that I especially want to acknowledge the way in which the resilience of big and small has been emphasized and raised in all of our district operations,” said Supervisor Terra Lawson-Roemer.

Supervisors said they were pleased that the county’s spending plan would benefit city dwellers as well as those in unincorporated communities.

“It delivers to the county everywhere,” said Supervisor Joel Anderson. “Everyone is rising with this tide. And to do it in a fiscally stable way is really remarkable. ”

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