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San Luis Obispo County makes budget adjustments for COVID-19 impacts

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Dave Alley / KEYT

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. - The County of San Luis Obispo addressed a $26.2 million gap in next fiscal year’s recommended budget following the impacts of COVID-19.

The County Board of Supervisors held a public budget hearing earlier this week for the 2020-2021 Fiscal Year's recommended budget.

The coming fiscal year begins on July 1. The recommended departmental
budget cuts include a reduction of 4 percent to the level of General Fund support provided to non-public safety departments.

County staff recommended a 1 percent reduction for public safety departments, as well as an additional $2.4 million reduction to public safety, due to an expected loss of Proposition 172 revenue specific to those departments.

In total, the reductions include $6.5 million in departmental budget cuts, use of one-time reserves in the amount of $12.8 million, and $6.9 million in voluntary savings directly from employees.

“This pandemic has affected our County in so many ways, including unprecedented budget impacts,” said District 4 Supervisor and Board Chair Lynn Compton. “The County faces a staggering budget gap as county residents need our services the most. The Board will strive to do what is best for our community.”

The Board said they tentatively adopted most recommendations but used one-time dollars to backfill the loss of revenue to significantly reduce the budget cuts for public safety departments.

County staff had initially recommended a $577 million budget for the County's General Fund. However, a drop in consumer spending related to the COVID-19 pandemic means a significant loss in funding sources for the County.

At the same time, the County is seeing an increase in overall expenses related to a higher demand for public services and COVID-19 response. As a result, County officials estimate a budget gap of $32 million to $56 million for FY 2020-21.

“The cuts we are facing are larger than any single year during the recession,” said Wade Horton, County Administrative Officer. “These next few years will be challenging, but we will work closely with Department Heads and the Board to weather the storm.”

Article Topic Follows: San Luis Obispo County

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Jessica Brest

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