SLO County adopts $562.1 million budget

The county Board of Supervisors approved a $562.1 million budget for the upcoming fiscal year, a nearly 4 percent increase over this year, that includes $39 million for road improvements, $2.6 million for community programs and funding to increase staffing by 83 new full-time-equivalent positions.

The 4 percent budget increase is because of a stronger housing market and more development activity, as well as increased sales, property and hotel tax revenues.

County officials call the budget a milestone because it will be the first year since an $80 million belt-tightening during the Great Recession that the county has been able to restore its 5 percent reserve fund while increasing spending on programs.

The biggest expenditure is for Health and Human Services and Public Protection, which make up 35 percent and 25 percent of the budget, respectively, and expanded staffing the most.

In Health and Human Services, 29.75 full-time positions were added, including 10.5 full-time therapists in the behavioral health section to reduce wait times for clients seeking care, the budget shows. Also, 3.75 full-time nursing staff will be added to improve the timeliness of medical care at the County Jail, according to the budget.

Public Protection added 14.5, including eight full-time positions with the Sheriff’s Office, which needs to hire more deputies to staff the new Women’s Jail scheduled to open later this year. 

Public Works will also add nine full-time positions — three to reduce the backlog on road maintenance orders and six to operate the Los Osos wastewater system when it goes online in 2016.