Orange County supervisors last week voted to approve a proposed $6.8 billion spending plan for the 2019-20 fiscal year, up $308.4 million from last year’s budget.
The increase is the result of spending more for the homeless and for mental health programs as county officials have budgeted nearly $930 million for a “system of care” to provide services such as housing, healthcare and mental health for the homeless and those at risk of homelessness.
The supervisors also voted to recommend $5 million as sort of seed money for a newly established affordable housing trust that is a partnership with various cities in the county.
“We are making investments to our system of care,” County Chief Executive Frank Kim told the supervisors. “We are really committed to the challenges we’re seeing with the mentally ill and disabled population in our jail system.”
It is the first budget for the county since closing out its debts in the 1994 bankruptcy case in November. And this month, the county will make its final payment of $55 million in the settlement with the state over a dispute involving Vehicle License Fees.
County officials are expecting 4% growth in property tax revenue in the coming fiscal year, which starts in July. Property tax revenue is expected to be up $40.9 million over last year.
Income from Proposition 172, the half-cent sales tax increase approved in 1993 for public safety services, is slated to increase $10.4 million over this year, allowing for $345.5 million for public safety funding, $276.4 million for the sheriff’s department and $69.1 million for the District Attorney’s Office.
Plans for addressing homelessness include funding to relocate the Courtyard emergency shelter in downtown Santa Ana to a new facility in partnership with the city, Kim outlined in a letter to supervisors on the budget.
The Health Care Agency is requesting money for 123 new positions and $16.9 million for mental health services in the jails and $800,000 for “in-custody reentry services.” The county, however, will shed 41 jobs due mostly to not filling vacant positions. Final approval could come later this month.