County approves $30 billion budget


With a 5-0 vote, the Los Angeles County’s Board of Supervisors passed their budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year Monday morning, boasting fiscal responsibility.

The $30 billion budget is an increase of $137 million from the previous year.

According to Fifth District Supervisor Kathryn Barger, the budget addresses county priorities while maintaining a commitment to a smart use of taxpayer money.

“This dedication to fiscal prudence will be especially important as we begin to allocate Measure H revenue to implement homeless strategies in the most effective and efficient manner,” Barger said in a statement.

After a county-wide vote in March, Measure H will provide $355 million annually for homeless services, which is expected to help 45,000 homeless families and individuals and prevent 30,000 more people from becoming homeless.

The largest portion of the budget goes to health at 29.9 percent, equating to $8.958 billion. Close behind is $8.398 billion for public protection at 28 percent and $7.847 for public assistance at 26.1 percent.

Additionally, the general fund will comprise 10.5 percent, miscellaneous funds will total 3.7 percent and recreation and culture will receive 1.8 percent.

Put together by County CEO Sachi Hamai, the budget allocates a rainy day fund of $27.4 million.

When it is time for the supplemental budget phase, Barger said she wants to further increase this fund.

The county’s long-term credit rating is currently the highest it has been in a decade, Barger cited, and said the short-term rating is the highest it can be.

The 2017-18 budget aims to be people-focused, Hamai said in a statement.

“This budget proposal is built for progress, even in the face of budget uncertainties at the state and federal levels,” she said. “With investments in homeless services, child protection and healthcare, it is, at heart, about helping people.”

Looking forward to the coming years, the county is looking to fully fund the rainy day fund, replace legacy information technology systems, prepare about $1 billion in deferred maintenance for buildings and facilities and confront increases in pension costs, according to the CEO’s presentation.

The fifth district supervisor was especially dedicated to increasing funding for the arts in high schools, emergency preparedness and nursing assistance for foster youth, said Barger’s Communication’s Deputy Tony Bell.

“She is very pleased the county is able to meet their obligations and still ensure that tax payer dollars are spent responsibly,” Bell told The Signal.

Regarding new budget items, the county will spend $13.3 million on a county data center, $1.1 million to start the Women and Girls Initiative Governing Council, $2 million for legal defense for immigrants who are undocumented and $1.4 million and five positions for a new chief sustainability officer.

Whole Person Care, a five-year initiative to give services for vulnerable Medi-Cal recipients, will receive $90 million and 25 positions.

Mental Evaluation Teams, a collaboration between the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the Department of Mental Health, will receive $3.7 million and 19 positions.

The budget provides $45.1 million for the Department of Children and Family Services, as well as 220 new social workers and 107 support staff.

The foster care system will receive $25 million and mental health for the child welfare system will receive $7.2 million.

Sheriff’s Oversight Commission will have an additional $1.5 million and 10 new positions under the budget. Also, there will be 22 positions for the Countywide Juvenile Indigent Defense program for Alternate Public Defender implementation.

For jail diversion and reentry programs, the county has allocated $90 million.

Capital projects and refurbishments relating to infrastructure will total $758.7 million.

Environmental projects, which include storm water, ground water and soil will receive $109.1 million.

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