Ventura, CA – The County of Ventura Board of Supervisors has unanimously approved a $2.7 billion balanced budget for the fiscal year 2022-23 at Monday’s budget hearing. The budget focuses on Board priorities, including expanding mental health services, ending homelessness, climate action, and pandemic recovery.
“The budget is the backbone of the County and what we do for the people of this County,” said Chair of the Board of Supervisors Carmen Ramirez. “Our strong financial position allowed us to sustain key services for our community while responding to the pandemic and expanding in needed areas like mental and public health, human services, services for people experiencing homelessness, equity and inclusion, and environmental sustainability.”
Key budget highlights include a total County appropriation of $2.7 billion, an increase of $150 million or 5.9% from the prior year. General fund appropriations include $1.29 billion, an increase of $55 million or 4.4% from the prior year. Countywide full-time equivalent position allocations increased 250 from the previous year totaling 10,163.
“As a result of the pandemic, we’ve seen significant economic and health impacts to many in our community,” said Interim County Executive Officer Dr. Sevet Johnson. “This budget aims to center the needs of communities most affected towards an equitable recovery. At the same time, it sustains critical core services in health, social services, and safety and enhances our capacity to support public health and mental health services long-term. Compiled through a comprehensive effort over several months at the direction of the Board, this budget is a collaboration among departments, the fiscal team, the Board, and the community. I am grateful for the dedicated work of our County team and Board of Supervisors in managing these public funds.”
Notable investments and recommended projects in the following priority areas include:
- Homelessness: Increased support for mandated programs by leveraging federal and state funding for direct aid and program operations, including Children and Adult Services, while maintaining non-mandated programs such as the RAIN Transitional Center, Homeless Services and Veteran Services. The Ventura County Medical System budget totals $646 million, an increase of $50.4 million or 8.5% from the prior year, for expansion of services and programs, including the transition of Whole Person Care to CalAIM and Behavioral Health integration.
- Mental Health: Increased staffing by 86 full-time positions to accommodate rising service demands, new state pilot programs, enhancements to meet CalAIM regulatory requirements, and operational needs for program compliance, including augmented services for the Logrando Bienestar latino outreach program, intensive services for those most impacted by severe health challenges, early intervention to prevent the onset of psychosis, as well as various other programs.
- Climate Action: $5.25M for implementing programs outlined in the Climate Action Plan, including home energy savings, enhancement of the urban tree canopy, regional collaborations to identify and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and address water challenges and sustainability.
- Capital Projects: Continued investment in infrastructure and technology, including $20M for broadband infrastructure to help improve service to underserved and disadvantaged communities, $50M for a Next Generation Public Safety Radio Communication System, $61.2M for the design and construction of a Physical and Mental Health Unit at Todd Road Jail, completion of a new $10.6M fire station in Ojai and purchase of a $14.5M helicopter for the Sheriff’s Office’s search and rescue efforts.
The Board of Supervisors approved the use of $75 million of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds for a number of projects aligned with Board and community priorities to support an equitable recovery from the pandemic including:
- Wastewater treatment plant project in Piru ($4M)
- One-time $250 payment to In-Home Support Service providers ($1.7M)
- Supplemental state Homekey funding for a transitional housing project in Ojai ($1.2M)
- Administration of the state-funded Microbusiness COVID-19 Relief Grant program ($500K)
- East County Mental Health Crisis Stabilization Unit ($7M)
- Nyeland Acres Community Center and Saticoy Park improvements ($10M)
- Oxnard Family Justice Center ($2M)
“A strong fund balance and healthy reserves are key in preserving the County’s financial health,” said County Chief Financial Officer Kaye Mand. “This strong fund balance prepares the County for future capital needs, establishes the ability to fund one-time expenses without affecting operations, and shields the County against unplanned events and significant fluctuations in revenue.”
“As we continue to recover, we have many challenges, including an uncertain economic forecast, housing shortages and homelessness, and climate change,” added Dr. Johnson. “This prudent budget and our County’s careful fiscal planning will position us to provide core services in the areas of health, human services, and public safety as we work to meet challenges that may lie ahead while supporting the most vulnerable in our community.”