Priorities include Affordable Housing and Homelessness, Custody Operations and Custody Health, Rebuilding County Infrastructure
Santa Clara County / CALIFORNIA
This week the County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors approved a balanced Fiscal Year 2017 Budget, as required by County Charter. The $6.1 billion budget includes all services, operations, capital improvements and reserves. The General Fund budget is $3.2 billion, and covers all discretionary and many mandated services for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2016. The County will add a net increase of 798 new FTE positions, including positions added throughout the past year, for a total of 17,715.
“We adopted a balanced budget on time that addresses services and housing-related initiatives to aid some of the most vulnerable in our community,” said Board President Dave Cortese. “It restores needed infrastructure funding and sets aside reserves in key areas for future costs.”
The budget recommended by the County Executive and adopted by the Board of Supervisors focuses on services and initiatives to address homelessness and affordable housing, investing in custody operations and custody health programs in the correctional system, and rebuilding the County’s staffing levels and aging facility infrastructure. The County began addressing these priority areas three years ago as the economy recovered from the housing crisis.
“County funding is relatively dependent on the real estate economy and State and Federal revenues, which makes us vulnerable to economic downturn,” said County Executive Jeffrey V. Smith, M.D., J.D. “We are still recovering from the last recession and the detrimental effects of 10 years of budget cuts.”
The County continues to take the lead in responding to the affordable housing crisis and seeking solutions to homelessness. The FY 2017 budget includes $17.2 million to address affordable housing and homelessness. Approximately $7.2 million will be used to implement several Housing Task Force recommendations. The additional $10 million will support initiatives for new units of permanent supportive housing for the chronically homeless; housing for homeless veterans, support for homeless children who are part of the County’s School-linked Services program, housing for survivors of intimate partner violence and/or human trafficking; transitional housing such as emergency shelter and outreach services; and improvements at the Hamlin Court North County Temporary Cold Weather Shelter Program.
The FY 2017 budget includes a significant investment in improving the County’s correctional system. The ongoing impact of Public Safety Realignment (AB 109), changing jail populations, and the County receiving a State grant for a new jail facility, all build upon the County’s need to restore and improve critical custody operations and custody health services that suffered from funding reductions during the last recession. The budget includes $7.5 million for staff and program improvements, including adding staff to provide behavioral health services such as mental health clinicians, substance use treatment clinicians, and custody staff to improve the process by which treatment is provided for this population of inmates throughout the Jail system. The County will also establish an ongoing reserve of $2.5 million for jail reform and oversight to follow up on the recommendations from expert consultants and the Blue Ribbon Commission.
The County’s facility infrastructure is another area that suffered during years of cuts and limited funding for capital projects and building maintenance. The County is augmenting staffing and operational funding to adequately support upcoming capital projects totaling $138.6 million, including $31.9 million for SCVMC Emergency Department improvements, and $28 million to begin the jail design and build. The County is also following the industry standard of funding facility maintenance equal to 2% of facility value (a $14.2 million increase).
“We must be thoughtful and fiscally prudent in our spending now, while also setting aside adequate reserves for economic uncertainty in the future,” said Supervisor Mike Wasserman.