The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors will hold budget workshops on April 18, 19, and 21, beginning at 9 a.m. each day in the County Administration Building, Fourth Floor Hearing Room, 105 East Anapamu Street. The public is encouraged to follow the proceedings via the County’s website, YouTube and on cable TV channel 20. To watch in Spanish, Cox and Comcast subscribers can enable SAP in their language settings, or watch in Spanish via the County’s Youtube español. Remote testimony and public comment will also be available at the Joseph Centeno Betteravia Government Administration Building at 511 East Lakeside Parkway, Santa Maria and virtually via Zoom by following the instructions found in the agenda.
The theme for the Fiscal Year 2023-24 budget is Ready for Today, Preparing for Tomorrow signifying the progress made on Board priorities and investments and continued prudent planning for the known and emerging issues on the horizon. The budget outlook next year is stable, despite uncertainties as a result of the Board’s prudence and financial planning.
“We are entering this budget year with a buckle up and drive carefully approach. While the fiscal outlook for the County remains relatively stable, the trajectory of the economy remains uncertain,” said County Executive Officer Mona Miyasato. “The County is ready for today after several years of adopting fiscally sound budget development policies and making sure it is preparing for tomorrow by setting aside funding for projected future shortfalls, given the uncertainty of the State budget and potential cost increases.” The County’s preliminary operating budget is estimated at $1.48 billion, a 6.2% increase compared to the FY 2022-23 adopted operating budget. This marks a fifth year in a row that service level reductions are not necessary in any County department.
Positive financial factors include
- General Fund Strategic Reserve is fully funded at $44 million
- Sufficient reserves to mitigate short-term impacts
- There is still significant ARPA, federal and state funding for critical programs
Challenging financial factors include
- Significant general liability and worker’s comp rate increase
- Employee salary and benefit costs continue to increase
- Shortfalls may begin in FY 2025-26 driven by Health and Human Services costs currently being funded through one-time funds
Each department will be giving a presentation outlining their budget during the workshops. The submitted department budgets and revenue estimates are available in the Budget Workshop Material 2023-2024 posted online. This year, the workshops include three special issue reports on Maintenance and Capital Projects, Cannabis Revenue Update, and Revenue Tax Measures. The public is encouraged to watch the workshops and provide input on ideas being developed by staff to fund vital services.
“Adopting a balanced budget is challenging,” said Board Chair and Supervisor Das Williams. “Budget workshops are an opportunity to craft a plan on how to stay financially resilient while continuing to support critical services like public safety, mental health, reduction of homelessness, and environmental protection.”
County budget workshops are held approximately one month before the release of the recommended budget and two months before budget hearings. This provides the Board of Supervisors an opportunity to review and discuss departments’ preliminary budgets and special issues, receive public input on these items, and provide the County Executive Officer direction on policy issues or specific items for consideration prior to completion of the Recommended FY 2023-24 Budget to be released in May.
The public is encouraged to attend the workshops and provide input on ideas being developed by staff to fund vital services. Final budget decisions will be made on June 16 and 20, 2023 when the Board of Supervisors holds budget adoption hearings. A schedule for the budget workshops can be found here: FY 2023-24 Budget Workshop Schedule. For information about Santa Barbara County government, go to www.CountyofSB.org.