The budget binder is becoming more and more complex with increased deficits this fiscal year for County Chief Mike Brown (front) and his budget guru Jason Stillwell (back).

Paul Wellman

The budget binder is becoming more and more complex with increased deficits this fiscal year for County Chief Mike Brown (front) and his budget guru Jason Stillwell (back).

County Passes $760 Million Budget

Document Features Millions in Cuts

If the hug shared by 4th District Supervisor Joni Gray and 2nd District Supervisor Janet Wolf was any indication, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors was relieved to have passed the budget Friday after hours of deliberation, disagreement, and disappointment. It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t fun, but the board adopted its final budget, a $760 million document that featured millions of dollars in cuts. The cuts come in light of an estimated $17 billion deficit at the state level, and may have to be readjusted based on the state’s passage of its budget this summer.

Working with a 2007-2008 estimated fund balance of $4.1 million, the supervisors-who took no reductions in their own salaries or office budgets, with the exception of one less part-time office assistant in the 3rd District office-allotted more than that sum to programs that were going to see cuts, leading 3rd District Supervisor Brooks Firestone and Gray to vote against adoption.”I cannot support that large a deficit,” Firestone said. “We are spending in excess of our income.” The overflow spending will be taken out of the county’s reserves.

Despite the pleading of 1st District Supervisor Salud Carbajal, the five supervisors neglected to fund an additional $300,000 for the Children’s Health Initiative, which helps uninsured children get insurance. Wolf, who supported giving $1 million to help the program last year, said she couldn’t give the additional money this year with so many programs facing cuts.

In light of news that the county will probably not have to pay damages in a lawsuit it originally lost because the Court of Appeal subsequently reversed that outcome, supervisors took $500,000 from its litigation reserve, which stands at about $5.4 million.

Included in the budget was $5 million to help the Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Services department gain footing. ADMHS department heads said their total deficit was $8.4 million, while leaders of community-based organizations estimated the cost to be closer to $5 million.

Some of the programs that received funding Friday include:

- $250,000 to the other side of ADMHS, the Alcohol and Drug program, which was also facing substantial cuts

- Various funding for Public Health Programs, including $50,000 to an HIV/AIDs program, $121,000 to a Geriatric Assessment Program, and $92,000 to the Cuyama Clinic

- $50,000 to the Santa Barbara Visitor and Conference Bureau Film Commission, placing an emphasis on promoting revenue-producing aspects of the county

- $207,000 to preserve the Agricultural Advisory Committee and an Oak Tree Specialist position in the Ag Commissioner position

And here is a list of just some of the cuts the board approved with their Friday vote:

- $768,185 in reductions to the Fire Department

- $306,060 in reductions to the County Counsel’s office, including unfunding an attorney position and two legal secretary positions

- $1.7 million in reductions to the Probation Department, including the closure of the Santa Barbara Juvenile Hall. That hall will turn into a 10-hour booking facility, while all youth will now be detained at Santa Maria Juvenile Hall

- $2.59 million from the Sheriff’s Department, including the reduction of nearly 20 positions

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