By: 5th District Supervisor, Debbie Arnold
It is budget season again! I just received my 724-page recommended Budget for 2021-2022. The County Board of Supervisors will be finalizing the budget on June 14-16 this year. The new fiscal year starts on July 1, 2021.
I cannot think of a better way to get familiar with this County than to study the budgets. A lot can be learned about the history of San Luis Obispo County by studying past budgets. Trends can be identified by studying the changes in the budget. The budget can give us an understanding of the economic conditions, priorities, maintenance needs, as well as changes in social needs. The budget book is packed with information and is an easy way to identify changes on an annual basis. This year is no exception. Some notable points in the introduction share interesting information. For example, in the General Budget Information section one can see that our County population estimate as of January 2020, based on the California Department of Finance report, stands at 277,259 people. This is a .4% decrease from the same estimate made in 2019. The median age of county residents was estimated to be 40 years old in 2019. 56% of the County citizens reside in one of the 7 incorporated cities, while 44% of the citizens live in the unincorporated areas of the County. The budget book updates tell us the population of each city, age and race distribution, educational attainment, median household income the median single family home price in the County, and more. It also has informational charts showing us the top employers, top industry employment, highest taxable assessed properties in the county, top crop values, and gives descriptions of each Supervisorial District in the County.
This year has been a challenging one for the Administrative staff at the County, as well as department heads trying to adjust budgetary needs within their department. The impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic have created an unpredictable situation that has required shifting needs for county services for over 15 months. The County expects to receive Federal assistance via the American Rescue Plan Act, as well as State assistance related to the Covid-19 Pandemic.
The County Board of Supervisors will be approving the budget while considering its short- and long-term priorities. These include meeting legal mandates and debt service, funding public safety (law enforcement and fire protection), road maintenance, homeless services, housing, economic development, and Covid-19 Pandemic emergency needs.
The total recommended budget for the year 2021-22 is $693 million dollars. Of that about 34% is revenue that comes from property, transient occupancy, and sales tax. Another 43% of the total is intergovernmental revenue, which comes from the state and federal government and used for a variety of health and welfare services and programs. About 61% of property tax collected by the County goes to the local school districts. Only 23% of the property taxes we pay go into the County budget.
There is so much interesting information in the budget book I urge you to take a look. The budget can be found online at www.slocounty.ca.gov.
It is an honor to represent all of you on the County Board of Supervisors. If you have questions or concerns you may reach me at (805) 781-4339.
5th District Supervisor, Debbie Arnold
Debbie Arnold moved to San Luis Obispo County in 1973 to attend Cal Poly, she fell in love with both her husband, Steve, and the farming and ranching values that had been a part of the Arnold family way of life for more than 5 generations. While raising two children, she owned and operated a small business in Atascadero for more than 17 years. She then had the privilege of advocating for local families as a Legislative Aide at the County Supervisor’s office and as a San Luis Obispo District Representative for the State Senate. During these years, she worked with a broad range of community groups and interests, bringing people together to solve problems. Debbie Arnold now serves as the 5th District Supervisor for San Luis Obispo County.