On October 27th, staff from the Sacramento County Budget and Debt Management Office hosted 2 workshops introducing the County budget process, the budget timeline, a budgeting tool, and went over some things from the 2021/2022 budget (which was adopted in September of this year). I have included a list of resources at the bottom of the article in case you’d like more information about the details of the budgeting process.
The main takeaway from this meeting is that it was less than transparent, and that since none of the County Supervisors were there, there was NOT (at least within the SJPC circle) a strong feeling that any comment made would be heard by anyone with any real power.
Additionally, they weren’t soliciting any input on the budgeting tool or discussing any limitations it might have. They did not offer solutions to get around limitations in order to ensure complete transparency, and they did not address if future modifications would be made to ensure fuller transparency.
It was clear from staff’s framing that they were trying to minimize the Sheriff/incarceration portion of the budget.
They did this by showing the entire general budget which is largely out of the supervisors’ hands and then showing the Sheriff’s portion of the entire budget, not just the discretionary budget (which is where the Sheriff’s budget falls and is entirely in the hands of the supervisors).
They went on to compare Sac County’s total discretionary fund spending to other counties' total discretionary fund spending, RATHER THAN comparing spending per resident. This is problematic because some of those counties have larger populations than Sac County. Other counties having larger discretionary fund budgets does not necessarily mean they’re spending more overall per person, it could just mean that they have more people to spend money on. They simply gave a flat number and acted as though health and human services is the largest portion of the budget, and that our discretionary budget is one of the smallest when compared to other counties. It was pretty blatantly biased.
The budget tool seems interesting, however it only includes the most recent year of the Sacramento County budget, and it remains to be seen how transparent it is. If you have more insights on the budget/budgeting process we’d love to hear from you at: email@example.com.