Updated: Jan 21
With three whole days set aside for final budget hearings, the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors gave their final approval on the nearly $7 BILLION dollar budget for Sac County FY 2021/22 in just one day.
How did it go so smoothly? Because there were NO bold moves. Not much was done differently from previous budgets. Not much was augmented. And Law Enforcement was definitely not defunded. *SIGH*
All of the supervisors seemed reluctant to deviate from the status quo, especially given that they are expecting the next $150 milli installment of American Rescue Plan Act funds within the next 6-9 months. Just about every supervisor used the words “cautiously optimistic” and “nimble” when referring to how they plan to prioritize spending of ARPA funds.
The Chief Financial Officer for Sac County, Amanda Thomas (who was only appointed this past April), presented the FY 2021/22 revised recommended budget. She began with reporting that sales tax revenue from online retailers (think Amazon) will be going to the jurisdictions where the sales occur. She expects to have a better sense of the amount and the sustainability of this funding at the mid-year budget hearings (it could be some significant coin!).
Thomas moved on to present the recommended budget, which contained changes to the preliminary budget that the Supes approved in June based on new information received, accounting for $400 million in appropriations.
This $400 million increase includes $15 million for a new property tax system, $5 million total for Mather Community Campus (a 12-month employment and rehabilitative transitional housing program), $7 million total for “Homeless Encampment Initiatives,” and $1.8 million for 15 more 911 Dispatchers (despite the county’s upcoming Wellness Call Center and Crisis Response program implementation that will handle mental health crisis calls, which is supposed to decrease the amount of 911 calls the Sheriff has publicly said he does not want to respond to).
Next up was Emily Halcon, who was appointed in July as the County’s Director of Homeless Initiatives. She presented her department’s request to add five additional navigators (aka outreach workers) to specifically focus on engaging the unhoused individuals residing along the American River Parkway. There is currently only one navigator assigned to the Parkway, and Halcon’s thinking is that five additional navigators will be able to cover more geography.
But yo, like one of the public commenters said: if there’s nowhere to navigate folks to, then navigators are useless..
The topic of Homeless Response got the Supes trying to design programs from the dais, including Supervisor Nottoli asking about adding a Community Prosecutor operating through the District Attorney’s office to “prosecute violations that are occurring against our natural resources” (aka criminalizing folks residing in encampments along the Parkway). Supervisor Serna felt like adding five more navigators was “too much of a baby step” and advocated for doubling the number of FTE navigators for a total of $500,000 and to add another half milli for debris removal in and around encampments. Supervisor Kennedy spoke up about homelessness being a humanitarian crisis, that he thinks “people would realize if it didn’t come with the debris.” Supervisor Desmond focused on the potential hazardousness of encampments and wanted to make sure people knew that he feels a responsibility to make sure that laws get enforced
What Got Funded:
• A $5 million contingency fund for Afghan refugee services
• Funding to support Regional Parks Department dedicated American River Parkway Fire Prevention Program, including additional ranger support personnel, vehicles and equipment
• Doubling the number of housing navigators dedicated to service solely in and along the American River Parkway
• Funding for more American River Parkway maintenance personnel plus vehicles and equipment
• Funding to support PBIDs
• Appropriations for local environmental educational programming: $75,000 for 3 nonprofits (Effie Yeaw, Soil Born Farms, and Sacramento Splash)