SD County releases $7.15 billion budget focused on mental health and housing

Houses under construction.
Houses under construction. Photo courtesy of the County News Center

San Diego County released its recommended budget of $7.15 billion on Thursday, with significant investments in mental health, homelessness, equity, racial justice and climate change.

The budget would add more than 1,000 employees in declared “priority areas” and maintain essential public safety, land use, health and social services, a county statement said.

“We have worked over the past four years to refocus county priorities to create a budget focused on investments and action to make a positive difference for San Diego, and our efforts are starting to pay off, as evidenced by this latest budget. said San Diego Board of Supervisors Chairman Nathan Fletcher. “This is the best recommended budget I’ve seen since joining the board because of its focus on supporting working families and vulnerable communities.”

The total recommended budget is 1.1% lower than the budget approved by the County Board of Supervisors last year, primarily because many one-time costs for the COVID-19 response are no longer needed.

Supervisors must approve a new budget by June 30. The council will get an overview of the budget during presentations by county departments at public meetings on May 19 and 20. The public can comment in person or by phone at two budget hearings in June: a daytime hearing on June 13 and an evening session on June 16. People can also comment online via e-comment until the close of budget hearings.

The budget includes a recommendation to add $71.8 million and 115 new positions for the county’s efforts to transform its behavioral health system, from crisis response to prevention, continuing care and daily health care . The funds will support mobile crisis response teams – made up of mental health experts rather than law enforcement officers – to respond to someone in crisis.

“I am also encouraged by the investments in mobile crisis response teams, homeless shelters and new affordable housing, but there is still work to be done to ensure that we maximize our resources to the greater good of the residents of San Diego County,” Fletcher said. “Over the coming weeks, we will be engaging with individuals, neighborhood groups and other community stakeholders to get their feedback and determine if we can improve on this very strong 2022-2023 budget.”

The increased investment in the new recommended budget includes $11.9 million in one-time stimulus funds to develop affordable housing to reduce homelessness. Another $10 million increase is planned for partnerships with cities to purchase shelters and housing for people.

As part of justice reform, more than $130 million is being invested in health care services at county jails to help offenders, with an additional $6.2 million for a Youth Development Academy designed to help young people who have committed serious offenses by giving them more intensive and longer-term behavioral advice. health, rehabilitation and skills-building services. County Probation will use $1 million for de-escalation training for its staff, supporting the youth it supervises. The Office of the Public Defender will add $21.8 million and 90 employees.

According to the recommendations of the budget, an Office of Sustainability and Environmental Justice will be funded to the tune of $3.5 million and more than $25 million will be invested to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in unprotected communities. incorporated, including $1 million to support electric vehicle charging stations.

Nearly $60 million will be spent on other environmental improvements, including $40 million to address stormwater issues, $16.3 million for the multi-species conservation program and $3.4 million to improve the Tijuana River Valley. More than 3,500 trees meant to trap more than 178,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per year will be planted in the county.

The recommended budget also includes $2.9 million for land for a future public safety facility located on Interstate 15 and State Route 76, and $250,000 to begin plans and design for a new fire station. Jacumba firefighters. Additionally, the San Diego County Fire Protection District is adding $2.2 million to protect communities and reduce wildfire risk in unincorporated areas through vegetation management by roadside and the creation of firebreaks.

Public Health Services will add 71 new positions.

The public can attend virtual community budget meetings for each Board of Supervisors district:

— May 23: District 3;

— May 31: District 4;

— June 2: Constituency 1;

— June 6: District 5; and

— June 8: District 2.

–City News Service

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