The Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors next Tuesday will consider the 2021-2022 Recommended Final Budget, which aims to increase funding for services impacted by the pandemic.
The $1.5 billion spending plan represents an increase of $35.3 million over the 2021-2022 Adopted Proposed Budget and $15.5 million over the plan included in the 2020-2021 Adopted Final Budget. The increase comes as Stanislaus County continues to operate under emergency orders during the pandemic, and the past year and a half has resulted in a constant state of evolution for the County’s functions.
“A year ago, I focused this budget message on balance, the challenges in finding it and managing it amidst the growing impacts arising under the COVID-19 pandemic,” County CEO Jody Hayes said. “I noted our need to acknowledge our changed circumstances and strike a new balance to support our community priorities during a rapidly changing time.”
The end result is a budget which addresses new needs caused by the pandemic and provides funding for services which felt the brunt of the virus, starting by increasing staffing across nearly all departments. The County introduced its new vision along with the final budget: Becoming a Community of choice, where people live, work and thrive – a place worthy of calling home; along with the mission to guide the organization through the next decade, We Build Community.
Helping to pay for the budget’s investments into core County services are Federal and State COVID funds, along with an increase in revenue thanks to sales tax from recent rapid economic recovery.
A total of 58 full-time positions are recommended in the budget, bringing the County’s workforce total to 4,587 allocated positions. The recommendation represents the largest one-time addition in recent history, according to Hayes, and this is in addition to 15 new positions the County has added since the start of the pandemic specifically to address COVID-related issues. The new positions included in the budget include:
· - 13 positions for the Health Services Agency to establish a new COVID Unit within the Public Health division, along with the addition of two positions for the Medical Therapy Unit to keep up with caseload growth.
· - 17 positions will support the Sheriff’s Department, serving on the frontlines of any emergency and integral in supporting public safety, the Board’s top priority. The department will dedicate five Deputy Sheriff positions and one Sergeant to reinstate a Salida substation that existed prior to the economic downturn, providing a significantly improved level of service to this community.
· - Community Infrastructure projects benefit from a combined 13 new positions for expanded services in Environmental Resources, Parks and Recreation and Public Works.
· - A net three positions are recommended for Community Health department functions, along with ten support positions for the General Services Agency, Public Defender and Human Relations to support the County organization in management and maintenance of facilities, personnel functions, accounting and technology systems.
“Our community has grown, and its needs are complex, especially now, and we need to grow with it to provide effective services timely and efficiently,” Hayes said. “We anticipate additional recommendations will be brought forward in the coming budget cycles as we dig deeper in our evaluation of organizational needs, but are starting now with two of our departments that have served steadfastly at the forefront during this ongoing pandemic; Health Services Agency – Public Health and Sheriff.”
Other significant changes identified in the final budget include a policy change providing Proposition 172 funding for community fire districts, the re-budgeting of multi-year road and bridge Measure L and SB 1 projects in Public Works, and an adjustment in Community Services Agency to account for the local maintenance of effort for InHome Supportive Services Provider Wages and not the total cost of the program, as has been past practice.
Although the final budget does represent an increase in prior planned spending, the plan is balanced with $1.4 billion in estimated revenue and the use of $58.1 million in fund balance and retained earnings.
The General Fund totals $411.8 million, an increase of $35.3 million over the 2021-2022 Adopted Proposed Budget and $15.5 million over that included in the 2020-2021 Adopted Final Budget. Estimated Discretionary Revenue of $256.9 assumes a 6.4% increase over earlier projections and an increase of 1.4%, or $3.6 million, over Fiscal Year 2020-2021 actual receipts of $253.3 million. The recommended increase in Discretionary Revenue is largely attributed to growth in sales tax, along with updated projections for property tax revenue growth of 4.1% to align with the Assessment Roll. The General Fund is balanced with the use of $5.3 million in fund balance for a total Net County Cost of $262.2 million.
Board of Supervisors Chairman Vito Chiesa said the County is “cautiously optimistic” when it comes to the budget.
“Although COVID-19 has caused concern and uncertainty, we are going to meet the increasing needs of the community and this budget provides the framework for our efforts,” Chiesa said.
A Public Hearing before the Board of Supervisors for the consideration and adoption of the 2021-2022 Recommended Final Budget has been scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Sept. 21. The meeting will take place in the basement Board Chambers located at 1010 10th Street in Modesto.
The Stanislaus County 2021-2022 Recommended Final Budget is available for public review on the County’s website at http://www.stancounty.com/budget/