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County Mental Health Funding SafeFor Now


The much-anticipated November 14 meeting that Santa Barbara County mental health providers feared would result in the slashing of funds to their programs ended without a financial bloodletting. Interim Alcohol, Drug & Mental Health Services (ADMHS) Director Doug Barton explained that the $3.4 million that would have to be cleaved from his department resulted from three factors: a $2.4-million deficit from the previous fiscal year; $387,000 from an equity pay adjustment for staff, the cost of which had been picked up by the county the two previous years; and an anticipated contract settlement of $613,000. A majority of the providers walked out of the meeting on grounds that cuts would lead to the loss of services and more people on the street without help. After discussion of bridge funding from the county to the department while a group works to overhaul the department-an action everyone agreed should happen-Barton promised to hold off on cuts until after a meeting with County Executive Mike Brown this week. Barton said he isn’t sure the county could provide the department a loan, nor does he know how much his department would need. “Although we didn’t achieve what we intended to achieve, I think we got somewhere,” Barton said nonetheless.

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