SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF. – Vital services for children and foster youth, agricultural land preservation, animal care, criminal justice reform and healthcare are some of the funding priorities for the County of Santa Clara Fiscal Year 2019-2020 Budget. The spending plan recommended by County Executive Jeffrey V. Smith, M.D., J.D., was approved today by the County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors.
The adopted budget authorizes spending of $8.17 billion to include all services, operations, capital improvements and reserves. The Budget reflects the County’s commitment to completing critical initiatives including integration of O’Connor and St. Louise Hospitals into the County’s health system; expansion of the Valley Medical Center emergency room to double its size; constructing a new animal services center; constructing a Vietnamese-American Service Center; custody and criminal justice reform including building a new service-based facility at the main jail site; implementation of the Voter’s Choice Act to expand voting access; building a new HUB community center for foster youth; and planning for a new juvenile and adult psychiatric inpatient center.
“I’m pleased to see a balanced budget focusing on completing crucial initiatives, strengthening existing services and funding non-profit programs that benefit our community,” said County Executive Jeffrey V. Smith, M.D., J.D. “This budget is our last year of expansion before an economic downturn is upon us. Revenue growth is slowing down. Funding threats are expected from the state and federal governments. And the demand for services is expected to increase as the cost of services is expected to continue growing in the years ahead. Maintaining existing services and prudent spending are expected priorities for the future.”
The County of Santa Clara adopted 2019-20 budget includes a General Fund budget of approximately $3.7 billion and covers all discretionary and many mandated services for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2019. The County will add a net increase of 205new FTE positions, including positions added throughout the past year, for a total of 21,080 full-time equivalent positions.
“We’re fortunate to be living in relatively prosperous times,” said Board President Joe Simitian, “but there are still so many folks who need our help.” Simitian noted, “even in good times, there’s always more we wish we could do; so our budget becomes more than just an accounting document, it’s the place where we identify our priorities, make hard choices and express our values.”
County of Santa Clara Funded Board Priorities
The County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors also identified and funded new proposals that were not originally included in the County Executive’s 2019-2020 Recommended Budget but were recommended by Board members. Called “Inventory Items,” the proposals from Supervisors support nonprofits and community organizations that need help with projects that benefit residents and improve the quality of life in the county.
Supervisor Cindy Chavez (District 2) proposed $45,000 in one-time funding for the George Mark Children’s House’s Pediatric Palliative Care Program which seeks to maximize the health and quality of life for children facing life limiting illness and to support and empower families to effectively manage these challenges.
“This is an investment in creating a loving and supportive environment for critically ill children and their family members,” said Supervisor Cindy Chavez.
The approved budget also sets aside $5 million in one-time funding to help implement a plan to preserve agricultural land through an Agricultural Conservation Easement Purchasing Program. This program lets an agency purchase the development rights on land while allowing farming to continue. The program targets the acquisition of 12,000 acres of agricultural lands at a cost of approximately $250 million to $500 million.
“This is just a start,” said District 3 Supervisor Dave Cortese, co-chair with Supervisor Mike Wasserman of the Agricultural Task Force, which developed the plan over seven months of meetings. “And a recognition that keeping our agricultural land is a priority of this County. We will work to grow this funding through partnerships with the Open Space Authority and other agencies.”
Supervisor Mike Wasserman’s funding proposals include one-time payments of $50,000 for the South Santa Clara Valley Memorial District Veterans Hall renovations and $75,000 for the YMCA of Silicon Valley’s Project Cornerstone to support anti-bullying and violence prevention in 72 schools.
“The current needs of our two million residents far outpace revenues, which makes this year’s budget a herculean balancing act. I am pleased that we were able to dedicate $5 million for agricultural preservation easements and that two of my inventory items will help fund needed Veteran’s Hall renovations, as well as Project Cornerstone’s anti-bullying programs in 72 local schools,” said Supervisor Mike Wasserman, District 1.
Among Supervisor Susan Ellenberg’s proposals to serve the community’s most vulnerable populations is a one-time grant of $90,000 to the Bill Wilson Center to support its Rapid Results Institute’s A Way Home Challenge to house as many homeless youth as possible in 100 days.
“No one should be living in their car, under bridges or near overpasses in our communities, especially our youth,” said District 4 Supervisor Susan Ellenberg. “And after our last point in time count, which showed a rise in homelessness across our state, I believe that this investment in supporting our youth through an organization not only known as a leading expert in homeless youth policy but also a provider of housing sites for our youth, makes sense and is necessary.”
During the hearing, the Board approved several budget proposals from the Board members and adjustments recommended by the County Executive, including adjustments to reserves to balance the budget. Final actions included establishing the General Fund Contingency Reserve at $164,105,457 and approving the Inventory of Budget Proposals submitted by the Board members totaling $6,631,843.
“The Board of Supervisors and the County Executive have developed and adopted a balanced and responsible budget with contributions from County departments and our community-based partners,” said County Budget Director Greg Iturria. “Together, we have allocated the necessary funds to expand and maintain services that improve the lives of 1.9 million residents in Santa Clara County.”
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ABOUT THE COUNTY OF SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA
The County of Santa Clara government serves a diverse, multi-cultural population of 1.9 million residents in Santa Clara County, the fifth largest county in California. With a $7 billion budget, more than 70 agencies/departments and 22,000 employees, the County of Santa Clara plans for the needs of a dynamic community, offers quality services, and promotes a healthy, safe and prosperous community for all. The County provides essential services including public health and environmental protection, medical services through Santa Clara Valley Medical Center (SCVMC) hospitals and clinics, child and adult protection services, homelessness prevention and solutions, roads, parks, libraries, emergency response to disasters, protection of minority communities and those under threat, access to a fair criminal justice system, and scores of other services, particularly for those members of our community in the greatest need.
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