Jury Still Out on Jail Funding

Supes Poke Holes in Report that Questions Funding Scheme

Thursday, August 28, 2014
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Santa Barbara supervisors this week poked holes in a Grand Jury report that faulted the county’s savings scheme for the North County Jail’s $17.3 million annual operating costs. Released in June, the report didn’t envision a successful execution of the plan ​— ​which has seen growing tax revenues set aside incrementally since 2011 ​— ​or a strong likelihood that the board, now and in the future, would stick to it. Instead, the jury wrote, salary and budget freezes would likely join layoffs and tax hikes to make up the difference if the economy doesn’t yield the revenue needed for the plan to work.

But where the Grand Jury said the plan depended on property-tax increases of no less than 3.5 percent yearly, county officials countered that the funding plan actually only needs one percent growth to work. Similarly, the county won’t have to funnel as much as 28 percent of that growth to its savings account (as the report hypothesized) but can manage with smaller allotments. The Grand Jury took particular issue with how the plan would function in conjunction with the extra property-tax monies going toward County Fire, a move approved in 2012; coupling that slice of the pie with the jail’s would mean dwindling dollars for other departments, the jury warned. But county number crunchers say there will still be more than 70 percent of tax growth left over for other departments.

Where the Grand Jury made a good point, county staff said, was in its finding that the Assessor’s office could benefit from more employees to handle its workload. Last year, said Clerk-Recorder-Assessor Joe Holland, his office didn’t finish all the work it needed to for the first time in 12 years. He cited staffing reductions and lack of time and resources to train new hires. Holland said three new appraisers and one new analyst would help.

Supervisor Doreen Farr pointed to how the supervisors dealt with the recession as a litmus test for how the county will fare with its jail-funding plan. “We were really tested over the past five years, and we did what had to be done, and we kept county government going. That is our responsibility,” she said. “I know we’ll deal with it successfully.”


Independent Discussion Guidelines

"Instead, the jury wrote, salary and budget freezes would likely join layoffs and tax hikes to make up the difference if the economy doesn’t yield the revenue needed for the plan to work."

Any questions??? The Rocket Scientists have most doubtably set into motion the biggest political lies ever told in this county. Can't wait for Sheriff Bill Brown to ask to have his name on this behemoth in big neon lights.

Priceless (anonymous profile)
August 28, 2014 at 6:45 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Prop 43 -mental health support that is raising billions of tad dollars - is money on the table for the North County jail to be a model for treating dual diagnosis incarcerations. Hannah-Beth and Das, get that Prop 43 money working for us. Now. Don't let our own streets rot while you save whales instead.

JarvisJarvis (anonymous profile)
August 28, 2014 at 8:06 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Build the darn thing already, enough!

Although the seriousness of the public money to fund this folly is highlighted by the fact that our elected officials still do not get it: When you hand out any public money and its done without any recognition that our national & state economy is cyclical in nature and instead are handed out as though we are always in great economic times; then you see pensions bankrupting local governments because those contracts were all negotiated when the economic times were good but when the economy went south as it will cyclically; then the payments from good times came due when hard times made revenues tight.

OpenMind (anonymous profile)
August 28, 2014 at 1:09 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Excellent investigative journalism depicting the political machinations involved in constructing the illusion that SB needs an additional jail. Link is from Noozhawk's Letter to the Editor: A Proven Reource for Prison Reform.

14noscams (anonymous profile)
August 30, 2014 at 6:29 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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