San Benito County Supervisors unanimously approved an amended 2019-2020 county budget June 25.
The new budget allocates $143.4 million in total spending for the 2019-2020 fiscal year. Edgar Nolasco, deputy county administrative officer, told the Free Lance that total spending is approximately $87 million less compared to last fiscal year because the new jail expansion is nearing completion. He also said the new budget includes a more “realistic” list of road projects in the coming year.
According to the budget’s executive summary the decrease, “is primarily a result of a decrease in capital funds for the anticipated completion of the Adult Detention Facility Expansion [jail] project and a decrease in anticipated road fund expenditures to realign the budget with actual road project projections.”
The anticipated revenues for 2019 to 2020 are $127 million, so there will be around $16 million deficit, according to the budget. The county will use reserves carried over from last year to make up the difference. Nolasco said this is typical for budgets in San Benito County. “It’s historic,” said Nolasco. “We do miracles with pennies.”
He said the county’s low property tax rates, large unincorporated areas and approximately 480 miles in roads lead to more expenditures. However, new construction in the county results in a projected $700,000 increase in property tax revenues over the current year, he said.
The budget summary also said the county plans to add 22.6 full time employees, three of whom will be corrections officers for the jail expansion and 11.1 who will be added to the Department of Social Services. The county will have the equivalent of 560.7 full-time employees in 2019-2020.
The new employees, Nolasco said, will be funded mostly by state, federal and grant funds.
Nolasco said that the county’s priorities when creating the budget were:
- Salaries and Benefits
- General Contracts (Fire, Animal Control, etc.)
- State Changes (Aid to Indigents, SB1,, etc.)
- New Capital Projects
- Economic Development
“More funds have been relocated to address the growing costs of the fire contract ($700K), Pensions ($500k), Workers’ Comp and Liability insurance premiums, and the amount of aid provided to the indigent fund,” Nolasco said in an email to the Free Lance. The county contracts with the Hollister Fire Department for fire protection throughout the county.