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Sacramento County approves $4.4 billion budget – with deep cuts. Here’s where the ax will fall

‘We are committed as ever.’ Mayor Steinberg addresses homelessness

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg joined other California mayors on March 20, 2019 in asking Governor Gavin Newsom to spend more state money from the budget for homelessness.
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Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg joined other California mayors on March 20, 2019 in asking Governor Gavin Newsom to spend more state money from the budget for homelessness.

After only a day of hearings, the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors on Wednesday approved a $4.4 billion budget that required about $43 million in cuts, in large part to fund county jail improvements.

As part of the staff-recommended spending plan, about 189 vacant full-time positions will be eliminated, most affecting the departments of human assistance and child, family and adult services. That includes 27 full-time social workers, which may put more pressure on an agency that still struggles to address regular turnover, a high vacancy rate and large caseloads.

The cuts will help fund about $21.7 million in upgrades to the county’s jails “as part of continuing efforts to resolve conditions of confinement concerns” outlined in a lawsuit last year that alleged people in custody were subject to “harsh, prolonged, and undue isolation,” according to the staff report.

“This has been one of the hardest budgets for us to do,” said County Executive Navdeep Gill. “When we finally got our arms around what the issue was, the picture was very bleak.”

The original spending plan recommended cuts to several programs, including about $588,000 from the animal services department, $300,000 from CalFresh outreach, and $500,000 from lab services and diagnostics work for the Health Partners program, which provides health care to uninsured residents, regardless of immigration status.

After nearly six hours of discussions, with dozens of residents urging the board to spare the social programs, supervisors approved several revisions to the budget plan, including:

  • Elimination of two homeless outreach team sheriff’s deputy positions, down from the recommended five.
  • No cuts to the Healthy Partners program. The budget initially recommended $500,000 in reductions.
  • No cuts to the county’s WEAVE Safe House contract, which provides shelter to women who are victims of domestic abuse and their children. The budget initially recommended ending those contracted services.
  • $150,000 in cuts to contracts for CalFresh outreach, down from the recommended $300,000. This will allow funding for half a year’s worth of outreach to help sign up eligible people.
  • $48,000 in cuts to contracts for community spay and neuter programs, down from the $110,000 recommended.
  • $60,000 in cuts to the Bradshaw Animal Assistance Team Mobile, down from the $80,000 recommended.

The changes will cost about $1.4 million, to be pulled from the general fund reserves, on top of the $12 million already requested as part of the budget, said county spokeswoman Kimberly Nava. Animal services-related changes will be funded by $182,000 in revenue from the city of Elk Grove contracting the county’s animal shelter services as it finishes its new shelter.

The full recommended budget for 2019-20 is on the county’s website at www.saccounty.net.

The Board of Supervisors will approve the final budget by Oct. 2.

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Alexandra Yoon-Hendricks covers Sacramento County and the cities and suburbs beyond the capital. She’s previously worked at The New York Times and NPR, and is a former Bee intern. She graduated from UC Berkeley, where she was the managing editor of The Daily Californian.
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