All five members of the Kern County Board of Supervisors approved the budget Tuesday for the upcoming fiscal year. The $2.7 billion budget places a specific emphasis on public safety.
The budget allocates 437.8 million into public safety, including $227.5 million for the Kern County Sheriff’s Office, and another $90.5 million for the Kern County Probation Dept. Another $75.5 million were allocated for health and sanitation, while roughly $7.4 million will be invested in the Kern County Library system.
The budget comes with an estimated $17.9 million deficit, a significant drop from the 2016-2017 budget deficit of roughly $44 million.
“About three years ago, we were looking at a $44 million hole in the budget,” said Kern County Supervisor Mike Maggard. “We made sure that we salted away enough money in our reserves that we could withstand threats to our economic economic health. Our absolute goal is by the end of that year, that we made up that 44 million deficit with still reserves to spare,” said Maggard, who represents Kern County’s third supervisorial district.
While a large portion of the budget is set to be invested into the sheriff’s office, Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood said the department still needs more funding.
“We’re better than we were, but this is not a good budget for the Sheriff,” Youngblood said. “We have 200 less employees than we had seven or eight years ago. And the public has seen that public response time deteriorate.”
Youngblood has urged voters to vote in favor of his one cent tax increase for the upcoming Nov. election because he believes it will give the department more resources.
“It will help get us back to where we need to be.”