Flush with tax revenue and other income, San Diego County releases $8.5B spending plan

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Article by Jeff McDonald  |  Read  full article in the San Diego Union-Tribune

San Diego County unveiled its long-awaited proposed budget for the upcoming year on Thursday, a massive document that avoids the drama afflicting the biggest city government and school district within its jurisdiction.

The $8.5 billion spending plan is hundreds of millions of dollars higher than the current-year budget, a 3.9 percent increase, and includes none of the likely cuts confronting the San Diego City Council or the San Diego Unified School District.

The 2024-25 blueprint not only adds more than $300 million to the existing budget, it also boosts the county workforce by 72 positions, to more than 20,400 full-time personnel.

Officials said the draft budget addresses the priorities of a Board of Supervisors that is committed to serving all of the nearly 3.3 million people who make San Diego County their home.

“The budget reflects the county’s values: integrity, equity, access, belonging, excellence and sustainability,” the budget announcement said. “It maintains current services and funds new ones, using data and community input gathered throughout the year and considering equity for vulnerable populations.”

Almost every department and office was spared from cuts, with most adding either a handful of positions or a few more dollars than the budget that expires on June 30.

Among other things, the 640-page spending road map designates $2.5 million to help upgrade the Mira Mesa Epicentre, the long-dormant and oft-vandalized community facility that officials hope to convert into a youth center.

It also includes approximately $25 million for environmental and watershed projects, new trees, climate change and other sustainability-driven efforts.

“The budget is fiscally prudent while continuing to build upon the solid foundation we have laid over the last three years of investing in vital services to help the homeless, increase access to mental health and addiction treatment, and build more affordable housing for working families,” Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer said in a statement.

“I need to give the budget a closer look, talk with the community and see what changes it might require,” the District 3 representative added. “But I am pleased with the investments we’re making in the communities I represent and countywide.”

County officials have already scheduled a series of presentations, workshops and hearings aimed at collecting public input on the proposed budget. They are scheduled throughout the month, beginning May 14.

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