County passes first two-year budget plan


SANTA CRUZ — The Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office will soon purchase a drug-sniffing dog and a body-scanner for the Main Jail, part of a plan to keep illegal contraband from coming into the jail.

With the lease on the scanner ringing in at $50,000 annually, and the K9 costing about $10,000, the purchases are expected to have a “significant impact” on the amount of illegal drugs that come into the Main jail, SCCSO Sgt. Dee Baldwin said.

“It will increase our narcotic detection capabilities exponentially,” he said.

The purchases are part of the County’s first-ever two-year budget and operational plan, a $1.6 billion spending plan that took a full week of all-day hearings to hammer out, from June 17-21.

The County Board of Supervisors gave their final approval to the 675-page budget plan Tuesday.

The budget also funds improved security and mental health services at County jail facilities, adding DNA analysis to the County’s Forensic Services Laboratory, a new Probation Service Center and a new Aptos Public Safety Center.

County spokesman Jason Hoppin said that the budget “maintains fiscal responsibility while investing in critical public services.”

According to Hoppin, the budget represents an overall spending decline of 12 percent, due to the resolution of capital projects. It also maintains healthy fiscal reserves and supports public safety, parks and other programs thanks to Measure G, a half-cent sales tax in unincorporated areas approved by voters last fall.

The tax funds several projects, including ongoing construction at LEO’s Haven at Chanticleer Park and the Focused Intervention Team pilot program.

The budget also provides improved financial planning to address slowing revenue growth and increasing demands on public services, Hoppin said.

Supervisor John Leopold called passage of the two-year plan, “a new era for our budgeting process.

“I appreciate the work we all have done,” Leopold said. “Every department, the Board and the CAO’s office, to manage our resources wisely. And I’m grateful to the voters for passing Measure G last fall. We’re in better shape than most jurisdictions.”

County Administrative Officer Carlos Palacios called the passage of the budget “a very proud and hopeful moment for the county.”

“It’s a huge lift every year doing the budget, and this year and the last two years we’ve actually added onto the workload,” he said. “We’ve added on a strategic plan, which was a very big effort, and then this year we even upped the effort in putting together a two-year budget, and a very detailed operations plan.”

The budget was accompanied by adoption of the County’s first Operational Plan, which is expected to be the first of three under the County’s six-year Strategic Plan.

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The plan includes 178 objectives for County staff to accomplish over the next two years, and is available at www.sccvision.us.

To see the budget online, visit www.bit.ly/2X952AT.

An interactive budget dashboard may be accessed directly at www.sccbudget.com.

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