County’s draft $7.15 billion budget for 2022-23 increases public safety spending

The San Diego County Administration Center.
The San Diego County Administration Center.
(Hayne Palmour IV/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Proposed spending plan would add 1,000 new positions


Public safety would get a bump under San Diego County’s proposed $7.15 billion budget for the next fiscal year, while Health and Human Services would see a slight cut in funding due to reduced pandemic spending.

The draft budget, released Thursday, May 5, lays out a proposed spending plan for the 2022-23 fiscal year that would expand some existing programs and add 1,000 staff members to various departments. The draft budget represents a 1.1 percent reduction from current year spending, mostly because the county no longer anticipates many one-time COVID-19 costs that it incurred last year, officials stated.

The Board of Supervisors must approve a new budget by June 30, and will receive presentations on the spending plan on May 19 and 20. Residents can attend one of a series of public budget meetings in May and June, and weigh in at public hearings on June 13 and 16.

Health and Human Services would account for the biggest portion of the proposed budget, with almost $2.76 billion in spending or 38.6 percent of the total. That would be down about 3 percent from the current budget’s allocation of $2.84 billion.

That includes the elimination of $216.5 million for one-year programs including the county’s COVID-19 testing, tracing and treatment services and the “Great Plates Delivered” food assistance program for seniors, the reduction of a $38.3 million investment in affordable housing and homelessness, and other COVID-19 spending.

However, under the draft plan, the county would add new money for behavioral health services. The proposed budget would authorize new spending on mental health and substance abuse care, with an additional $71.8 million and 115 new positions for those services, the county stated. As part of that, the county would allocate money for Mobile Crisis Response Teams, which dispatch mental health experts rather than law enforcement officers to non-life-threatening emergencies.

The proposed budget would also add 100 new staff members for Child Welfare Services, 100 new positions for services including Calfresh and Medi-Cal programs that provide food assistance and health care and 60 new positions for in-home services for older adults and blind or disabled people.

Public safety would make up the next biggest expenditure, at $2.42 billion or 33.9 of total spending. That’s an increase of 7.7 percent over this year’s spending of about $2.25 billion.

New public safety expenses would include $130 million for health care services in the county’s jails, the county stated. The Public Defender’s Office would receive $21.8 million to add 90 staff, while the District Attorney would spend $3.5 million for an additional 18 positions.

Another $6.2 million would go to a Youth Development Academy, which would provide behavioral health services, rehabilitation and other services for young people who have committed serious offenses. The program, located at the East Mesa Juvenile Detention Facility is designed for young people who would previously have been committed to the state’s Division of Juvenile Justice.

Finance and general government, which includes the Registrar of Voters and Assessor/Recorder/County Clerk and Treasurer/Tax Collector, would receive $800 million, or 11 percent of the total, an increase of 2.9 percent over last year. That department also comprises various other county functions ranging from internal services such as the County Counsel, Human Resources and Technology Office, to civic bodies such as the Grand Jury and Citizens’ Law Enforcement Review Board.

Land use and environment is slated to receive nearly $619 million, and would see a slight increase of 0.5 percent, or $3.3 million, over last year’s allocation. Investments through that department would include $25 million to cut greenhouse gas emissions in unincorporated areas, with $1 million slated for electric vehicle charging stations.

An additional $40 million is proposed to address stormwater pollution issues, $16.3 million would go to the Multiple Species Conservation Program and $3.4 million to clean up the Tijuana River Valley. The county would also invest in planting 3,500 trees to trap 178,000 pounds of carbon dioxide.