This year’s budget comes amid a projected economic recession and in an era of slowed economic growth. It also predicts a grim future, with a budget deficit exceeding $10 million by 2028.
The Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday will hear an in-depth presentation of the county’s 2023-24 proposed budget, which totals $1.04 billion and includes a balanced $731.5 million general fund.
From the recent disaster response alone, the county is facing $2 million in unexpected costs. At the same time, the county experienced a $2.6 million drop in sales and cannabis tax revenue and has $300 million in deferred maintenance on the county’s facilities and roads.
One ray of hope is the continued low unemployment rates, a possible indicator the downturn could be milder than expected.
But the county also has numerous expenditures forecasted, with projects like the new South County Government Center in Watsonville, improvements at Juvenile Hall and a new Children’s Crisis Stabilization Center.
The county is also facing a $12 million increase in salaries and benefits for existing positions and plans to add roughly 21 new positions to the rosters.
Fully reopening Simpkins Family Swim Center will add to costs, as will completing the Live Oak Library and Aptos libraries, and completing a new DNA laboratory to reduce case processing times.
Worse, a meager 0.4% revenue growth spurred by the lagging economy and changes in retail shopping will pose additional financial challenges.
Tuesday’s talk will serve as the precursor to financial presentations by every county department beginning on May 30.
2023-24 Proposed Budget Hearings happen on May 9, 30 and 31 at 9am, and June 13 at 1:30pm at the Santa Cruz County Government Building (Board Chambers), 701 Ocean St., Santa Cruz. santacruzcounty.us/VisionSantaCruz/Budget.aspx