County budget expands health, safety and social services; increases reserves

VENTURA, Calif. – The Board of Supervisors adopted a $2.166 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2016-2017 on June 20, 2106, following a hearing for public comments on the budget. The structurally balanced budget increases reserves to $136 million, the highest level in County history.

The budget reflects a 5.9 percent increase from the previous year to meet the increased demand for services, particularly in the areas of public safety and health and human services. The budget also provides for the County’s continued investments in infrastructure and technology.

“The budget is balanced but tight,” said Mike Powers, County Executive Officer. “Our revenues are increasing, but at a decreasing rate. With this in mind, the proposed budget really focuses on maintaining core services with some focused increases in certain areas.”

Among these areas are adult and child protective services, access to health care, Laura’s Law, homeless services and support for the increasing demands on our public safety agencies. The majority of the staffing increases in these areas is funded by drawing down state and federal funding.

Safety funding is also a special emphasis. The Board can allocate discretionary funding from general purpose revenue and the majority of those funds are being devoted to public safety. About 60 percent – $229 million – of the funding will go to public safety. Health and human services would receive about 12 percent, 10 percent to general government and about $56 million (15 percent) to other General Fund uses.

“This budget emphasizes the scope of the services we provide, particularly to the people in our community who are most in need,” said Powers. “We have seen Medi-Cal participants increase 97 percent since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, and there has never been a greater need for mental health services for both children and adults in our County. And, by funding new positions in Child Welfare to reduce caseloads, we have been able to place more children into foster care with loving families while increasing adoptions to record levels. The County’s children are one of our Board’s highest priorities.”

Capital projects are also part of the approved budget. They include:

  • Completion of the Hospital Replacement Wing at the Ventura County Medical Center
  • Completion of the Horizon View Mental Health Rehabilitation Center
  • Opening of the Children’s Crisis Stabilization Center
  • Design and construction of three fire stations (Newbury Park, Fillmore and Upper Ojai)
  • Medical/Mental Health Unit at the Todd Road Jail
  • Camarillo Animal Shelter Improvements
  • Permanent supportive housing for homeless families and individuals

“The managers and employees are doing a great job of managing their budgets and staying within their budgets,” said Powers. “Under the Board’s direction and support, our employees have reduced costs, enhanced revenues and lowered overhead while still doing things like home-delivering more than 190,000 meals to seniors.”

Some of the issues the Board is focused on include homelessness, mental health and services for children. It also addresses new requirements to insure the uninsured and provide full-scope Medi-Cal coverage for youth under the age of 19.

The County’s long-term commitment to fiscal discipline is being rewarded as seen in the recently announced Moody’s Investor Services upgrade to the County’s Issuer Rating to its highest level, following the same action by Standard and Poor’s.

“We will continue to be transparent with our finances and maintain a structural financial balance as we invest in our employees, infrastructure and technology,” said Chief Financial Officer Catherine Rodriguez. And we will apply the Board-established priorities in the County’s strategic plan to improve the quality of life for every person in Ventura County. This budget reflects that commitment.”

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