Supervisors approve health care, public safety, infrastructure and technology investments in structurally balanced budget

VENTURA, Calif. – The County Executive Office presented a structurally balanced budget to the Board of Supervisors on Monday, June 19, 2017. The Board approved it unanimously after two public hearing sessions.

“The budget aligns with the Board's Strategic Plan and prioritizes safety, health and social services,” said County Executive Officer Mike Powers. “Overall, the budget sustains the current levels of service, including those areas increased over the last several years in safety and child and adult protective services.”

More than 60 percent of the increased General Purpose Revenues are allocated to safety departments including Sheriff, Probation, District Attorney and the Public Defender. This is significant as the County provides police and/or fire protection to many of the cities in the county, in addition to the unincorporated areas.

The budget does reflect significant state reductions to the Human Services Agency, which includes In-Home Supportive Services, CalWorks and CalFresh, due to the improving economy. This has resulted in roughly 26 layoffs. The Human Services Department has worked to minimize those layoffs and reductions in service which were much greater in other counties. Efforts to mitigate the impacts locally included a hiring freeze implemented several months ago, reductions in outside contracts, and additional General Purpose Revenue.

The budget also builds reserves and sets aside funds for future infrastructure projects and continues the Board's directive to keep up with the County's ongoing maintenance requirements. The current fiscal year budget is on track and the departments have successfully managed to come in a collective estimated $8 million under budget, as they have for the past several years.

Many California counties are not as fortunate. They have suffered significant layoffs, service reductions or across-the-board cuts due to rising expenses and revenue reductions. Strong direction from the Board of Supervisors and diligent fiscal management has limited such reductions in Ventura County.

“The overall number of positions is down a net of 14 employees,” said Chief Financial Officer Catherine Rodriguez. “This reflects the collective efforts of the departments and our office to analyze, reduce and right-size the actual number of positions needed.”

Also included in the budget are the continuing efforts to lower overall overhead costs and build in performance measures. These efforts include the County’s Lean Six Sigma programs to reduce costs and improve efficiencies, the Information Technology Services and General Services Agency pledges to maintaining flat or minimal increases in internal service rates, and departments' agreement to manage a good portion of increases in supply and labor costs without increases in general purpose revenues.

The opening of the North Tower hospital replacement wing at the Ventura County Medical Center – completed under budget – will result in increases for higher rates of outpatient visits, transition costs and higher patient numbers due to the Affordable Care Act.

The budget includes funding homeless programs such as the Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program, Whole Person Care, respite care, and additional funding for the Homeshare program.

Budget Highlights:

Budget –
• Structurally balanced at $2.24 billion.
• Increased by 3.3 percent ($70.8 million) over 2016-2017.
• General Fund budget at $1.082 billion.
• Unassigned Fund Balance (Reserves) increasing yearly. Currently at 13 percent with a goal of 15 percent. Not used for ongoing operations.
• Estimated $8 million fund balance allocated as follows:
  1. $5 million to Unassigned Fund Balance (Rainy Day).
  2. $3 million to Assigned Reserve (one-time projects or programs).
• Planned Required Maintenance: $8 million.

Full-Time Equivalent Employees –
• 8,972 – Reduction of 0.2 percent due to the closure of Probation work furlough program, Ventura County Health Care Plan withdrawal from National Committee for Quality Assurance and Information Technology conversion to cloud-based technology.
• Positions have been added for the Agricultural Commissioner, District Attorney and Public Defender.

Pension/Retirement –
• PEPRA Savings: 28 percent of employees (2,380) now covered by PEPRA. Number increases every year with new hires.
• Retirement contribution rate decreasing.
• Pension funding ratio at 84.9 percent (CalPers at 69 percent).

Public Safety –
• Funding increases to District Attorney for higher criminal prosecution workload, victim advocate funding.
• Funding increases to Public Defender. Agency is currently defending about 80 percent of all criminal filings in Ventura County. Adding two investigators.
• Constructing fire stations in Fillmore, Upper Ojai and Newbury Park.

Community Well-Being –
• Increase of $4.5 million for the Human Services Agency due to a $4.8 million decrease from CalWORKS, CalFresh and IHSS due to new cost-sharing of MOE.
• Increases to child and family services, mental health youth family program (Continuum of Care for Foster Youth.)
• Increases for senior nutrition and fall prevention.
• Increases to the Medical Examiner for administrative oversight and a system upgrade for Lodox radiology equipment.
• Mental health: Laura’s Law implemented, children’s crisis stabilization unit opened in Oxnard and adult mental health rehabilitation center opened in Camarillo.

Investments in Capital infrastructure –
• Todd Road jail Medical Facility.
• Camarillo Airport new apron and hangars.
• Technology: Human Resources and payroll system, disability management, property tax and collection system.
• Harbor administration building.
• Payroll and Time and Attendance System at the Ventura County Medical Center.

Other Highlights –
• Awarded Whole Person Care pilot program.
• Funding for homeless prevention and rapid rehousing.
• Expanded services and hours for County Clerk-Recorder in East County.
• Funding for Information Technology enhancements to cyber-security and disability management.
• Required maintenance for County facilities.
• Road Repair and Accountability Act.

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