Monterey County officials set to pass new budget – Monterey Herald
SALINAS – Monterey County elected officials are expected to adopt a budget of about $ 1.7 billion on Tuesday before the start of the next fiscal year, July 1, a budget that includes funding for a staff of 5,499 full-time equivalents.
The 656-page budget, which funds everything from law enforcement to elections, is an increase of $ 16.2 million from the current fiscal year. The final budget is important because it will determine what county services will be provided and to what extent, while also providing insight into how taxpayers’ money will be spent.
Spending and income has been complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic which has had a major impact on income due to the dramatic drop in transitional occupancy taxes, also known as hotel taxes, when the shelter order on State place has generated catastrophic losses in the hospitality industry. .
At the same time, the demand for social service programs, including food and rental assistance, public assistance and programs for the homeless, has increased as a direct result of the pandemic, according to Chief Executive Officer Charles McKee. .
If there are any positives, it would be that the economy – local and statewide – begins to gain momentum as people who have been vaccinated begin to feel comfortable stepping outside. new and that federal humanitarian aid dollars have bolstered essential services.
“The recommended budget conservatively estimates revenue improvements assuming increased travel and consumer spending as emergency orders become less restrictive,” McKee wrote in a budget summary to the Supervisory Board. .
The county received $ 45 million under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, known as the CARES Act, which provided financial assistance to local governments. Most recently, the county estimates it received $ 84.3 million from the American Rescue Plan Act. Federal aid is credited with allowing the county to balance its budget.
Federal aid forces the county to use the funds for specific purposes, including responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, paying a bonus to eligible workers providing essential work, and making the necessary investments in infrastructure. water, sewer or broadband. The county must use these funds by December 31, 2024.
“If the county had not received these funds, it would be under real financial stress, as discretionary income increases by about $ 8.9 million next fiscal year, while cost increases far exceed the cost. revenue growth, ”McKee wrote.
As the county enters the new fiscal year, it will face challenges such as rising labor costs and pension obligations.
One of the most controversial aspects of the budget comes from the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office after Sheriff Steve Bernal told supervisors in recent budget hearings that if he didn’t fill 17 unfunded positions he would have to start working. remove deputies from services such as officer resources in schools.
Oversight Board Chair Wendy Root Askew noted that the Sheriff’s Office budget for 2020 was $ 119.9 million, then increased to $ 124.5 million in 2021, then back into demand. current budget at $ 134.7 million.
“I feel the budget office has been very generous in recommending approval of the increase requests (additional funding) from the sheriff’s office,” she said during the budget hearings. “I am confident, Sheriff Bernal, that you and your team will be able to meet the mandatory coverage needs, so I am not interested in increasing additional positions, knowing that there is a fairly large increase over Last year. “
Eventually, the supervisors reached a consensus to reinstate 10 of the vacant positions.
The budget for the 2021-22 fiscal year will be presented to the Board of Directors at its afternoon session starting at 1:30 p.m. People can view the meeting at https://montereycty.zoom.us/j/224397747.