LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Monday approved a $30.1 billion budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year, highlighting increased spending to fight homelessness.
Supervisor Kathryn Barger said she was pleased about the allocation to the county’s “rainy day fund,” a reserve to manage unanticipated economic challenges.
“CEO Sachi Hamai and her team have developed a balanced budget that addresses the county’s priorities while still taking a fiscally cautious approach to the use of taxpayer funds,” Barger said. “This dedication to fiscal prudence will be especially important as we begin to allocate Measure H revenue to implement homeless strategies in the most effective and efficient manner.”
Supervisor Hilda Solis said the budget would help strengthen the county’s social safety net, and pointed to additional spending on justice reform and infrastructure.
“We have balanced the needs of our constituents with fiscal realities while also restoring several county departments, and enhancing the safety net for our most vulnerable residents through enhanced homeless and social services programs,” she said.
“This budget is truly reflective of our values and ideals as a county, and I am confident it fits the needs of the communities I serve.”
The board made several amendments to the budget during Monday’s special meeting, including two championed by Solis to fund the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts and support consumer protections.
The budget includes $258.9 million in first-year spending on one of the county’s most important priorities, reducing homelessness. A total of $355 million in new revenue is expected to be generated annually by voter-approved Measure H, but the new quarter-cent tax sales won’t start being collected until Oct. 1.
Those dollars will go to fund 21 strategies to fight homelessness and is projected “to assist 45,000 families and individuals to escape homelessness, while preventing 30,000 others from becoming homeless in the measure’s first five years,” Hamai said when the proposed budget was released.
Those numbers amount to getting 96 percent of those currently homeless into housing, while working to prevent an increase in their numbers.
Funding for 284 new social workers — a significant increase from what was initially proposed — is aimed at reducing Department of Children and Family Services caseloads.
The Department of Children and Family Services is also poised to hire 135 support personnel and another 58 positions focused on improving mental health care for children in the system.
Hamai also emphasized other spending on mental health programs — including a new psychiatric inpatient unit at Olive View-UCLA Medical Center — and the reform of group home care for foster children.
“The budget adopted today by the Board of Supervisors is about far more than numbers and line items,” Hamai said. “It represents our commitment to improving the lives of those struggling on the margins of society, while also embracing the kind of strong fiscal accountability that recently led to our best long-term credit ratings in more than a decade. This budget is a reflection of our deeply-held values.”
In all, the budget reflects an increase of $183 million over last year’s budget. It brings the total county workforce to 109,881 people.
Property tax revenue was preliminarily estimated to rise roughly 5.8 percent, with statewide sales tax revenue forecast to increase 3.5 percent.
Los Angeles County’s budget is larger than that of a majority of states, but roughly 40 percent of it comes from federal and state funding sources.
County departments have been asked to submit budget-reduction proposals in the event that federal and state dollars are cut.