Supervisors approve county’s $ 7.2 billion budget with increases for mental health and environment

Nora Vargas, district 1; Joël Anderson, district 2; Terra Lawson-Remer, District 3; Nathan Fletcher, District 4, Jim Desmond, District 5.

The supervisory board voted unanimously on Tuesday to approve a $ 7.2 billion spending plan for fiscal year 2021-22 for San Diego County.

Including additional demands from supervisors or department heads since its first unveiling in May, the budget includes approximately $ 2.7 billion for health and social services, $ 2.2 billion for public safety, 1, $ 5 billion for general government and $ 600 million for environmental programs.

Along with traditional county services, the county has budgeted funds for programs aimed at reducing homelessness, increasing economic opportunities, environmental protection, government transparency and judicial reform.


Executive Director Helen Robbins-Meyer said the official budget was “the culmination of considerable effort” by the supervisory board, county staff and the public.

“We’ve spent the last six months listening to each other,” said Robbins-Meyer. “It’s a budget that reflects the needs of all of our residents, while maintaining a prudent fiscal position.”

Robbins-Meyer added that the county is “at a time that may never happen again” as the 2021-2022 budget represents an increase of $ 700 million and 1,000 new positions.

In August 2020, the board adopted a budget of $ 6.5 billion for fiscal year 2020-2021, after a two-month delay caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tuesday’s vote followed a month of public hearings. Highlights of the budget include:

  • $ 75 million to support the rehabilitation and transition of young people
  • $ 4.5 million for a new assessment, performance and analysis office to increase county efficiency
  • $ 5 million to provide a right to a lawyer for immigrants threatened with deportation
  • $ 25 million to tackle the affordable housing crisis
  • $ 39.7 million to prevent storm sewer pollution
  • increased medical and behavioral health services in county jails with 160 new staff and $ 24.865 million in funding
  • establish a labor standards and enforcement office with five full-time employees and $ 1.1 million in funding
  • creation of the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs with five full-time employees and funding of $ 2 million
  • $ 75 million in construction funding for phases two and three of the county’s new transition campus for youth
  • $ 8.65 million for a new behavioral health and data communications operations program with 56 full-time employees
  • $ 10 million to design and build the Behavioral Health Crisis Hub at Hillcrest
  • $ 12.4 million for mobile crisis response teams
  • $ 2.4 million for the creation of a homeless solutions and equitable communities department with 207 full-time employees, many of whom will be transferred from other departments
  • $ 3.8 million to hire social workers to support the development of school-aged foster children
  • $ 400,000 for a doula pilot program to support black maternal and child health

Supervisor Nora Vargas said that while the spending plan does not address all of the long-standing disparities communities face, she is confident it is putting the county on the right track.

Vargas, also vice chairman of the board, thanked the audience for their contribution to creating this year’s budget.

“I have come from your world (of) waiting many hours to make sure our voices are heard,” she said.

Supervisor Joel Anderson also thanked county staff for ensuring residents are represented.

“For unincorporated residents, we are their only government,” Anderson said.

Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer said the budget includes funding for environmental protection, community investments, reducing homelessness and removing barriers some face when applying for financial assistance from the government. county.

“This budget is also a down payment on the justice reform for which so many people have fought,” she added.

Supervisor Jim Desmond said he was pleased the budget included funding for a homeless assistance program in North County and an intergenerational settlement in the Valley Center community, but said that ‘He could not approve teleworking allowances for county employees or funding for the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs.

Desmond said earlier this month that while he has compassion for immigrants and refugees, such an office should be run by the federal government.

Before voting on Tuesday, supervisors heard from residents in a short public hearing. Some praised the county budget for being more representative of local communities, while others demanded an audit of the amount spent on the sheriff’s department.

Updated at 6:33 p.m. on June 29, 2021

– City News Service contributed to this article

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