LA County Board To Consider Recommended $38.5 Billion Budget

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors will consider preliminary approval today for a $38.5 billion recommended budget for fiscal year 2022-23.  

The recommendation is $807 million less than the current fiscal year's adopted budget, but $2.3 billion more than last year's recommended budget. Officials said the draft budget, which will be presented to the board by the county's CEO, is expected to increase as the county receives additional federal and state funding.  

``This budget brings to life the policy vision established by the Board of Supervisors and sets a course for the county to strengthen the programs and services we provide to millions of residents each and every day,'' County CEO Fesia Davenport said in a statement Monday. ``That means continuing to respond vigilantly to an evolving pandemic, while also ramping up to launch new departments focused on key populations and driving major changes in how we deliver services. It's a dynamic time for Los Angeles County, and this recommended spending plan is intended to reflect that.''  

The proposal foresees a positive economic outlook for the county, with property tax revenues expected to grow by 6% and sales tax revenues estimated to increase by nearly 8%. However, Davenport, who said the county is ``cautiously optimistic,'' warned of challenges and uncertainties, including inflation, labor negotiations, continuing impacts from COVID-19, litigation and an unstable geopolitical climate affecting gas prices and global markets.  

Generally, the budget recommendation is divided into $12.985 billion for health-related services, $9.597 billion for public assistance, $9.461 billion for public protection, $5.737 for general services and other costs, $737 million for recreation and culture.  

The Sheriff's Department is recommended to receive approximately $3.6 billion, roughly the same as the current fiscal year.  

The recommended budget also includes $493.3 million in Measure H funding to help with mental health resources and housing for people experiencing homelessness.  

The budget recommendation includes funding for a total of 513 new positions, bringing the total number of county jobs to 111,551. Most of the new positions are focused on public health, health and safety net services, including 116 new public health positions, 196 new critical care unit nurses and 41 new ``street medicine'' clinic positions.  

The recommended budget would also allocate $15.3 million for continued compliance with a federal consent decree governing conditions in the Men's Central Jail, which the Board of Supervisors has committed to closing. The proposal also includes $12.3 million to expand sheriff's academy classes and train a ``new generation of deputies,'' while continuing moves to rely more on mental-health professionals to respond to some incidents rather than law enforcement.  

Also proposed is $100 million through Measure J for ``community investments'' and incarceration alternatives, and support for the county's ``Care First, Jails Last'' program. In line with Measure J, the county aims to set aside the full 10% of its locally generated unrestricted revenue to support Care First and Community Investment programs by 2024.  

Youth investments outlined in the recommended budget include $22.8 million for full-time childcare for CalWORKS families, $15.7 million for Youth@Work jobs program and $14.1 million for Department of Children and Family Services medical hub services.  

The county is also expected to introduce four new departments in the next fiscal year, which Davenport said ``must be some kind of record, at least in modern county times.''  

The new departments are the Justice Care and Opportunities Department, the Youth Development Department, the Aging and Disabilities Department and the Department of Economic Opportunity.  

The recommendation also includes $188 million for water conservation projects, $1.6 billion for capital projects and $85.3 million to enhance and expand parks.  

The $38 billion is funded by several sources, including 22%, or $8.5 billion, from the state and 15%, or $5.8 billion, from federal government. However, both state and federal revenues are tied to specific programs. The county also has $8.124 billion from charges for services, $8.3 billion from property taxes and $7 billion other revenues.  

Davenport will present the budget to the Board of Supervisors today. The budget will undergo public hearings beginning on May 11 and deliberations will begin on June 27. The final budget will be adopted in October.

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