STOCKTON — The San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved its 2019-2020 final budget last week, which totals $1.8 billion and highlights an increase of $40.8 million from the previous fiscal year.

San Joaquin County Administrator Monica Nino said in a media statement that the budget was structurally sound.

“The 2019-2020 final budget provides a detailed road map for achieving our fundamental priorities of promoting good governance, protecting our residents, attracting business and well-paying jobs, safeguarding the Delta and sustaining our financial outlook,” she said.

“This budget demonstrates the county’s ongoing commitment to supporting the health, safety, and quality of life for local residents, our responsibilities as a major employer in the community, and steadfast efforts to make San Joaquin County a great place to live, work, and play,” she added.

Highlights of the budget include the addition of $2.1 million for the county’s contingency reserve, which is anticipated to be set at $90.2 million in the next fiscal year.

The county’s budget for public safety saw an increase of $31.6 million from last year, and 63 positions were added to the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s, District Attorney’s and Public Defender’s offices; Child Support Services; Probation; and Correctional Health Services.

Other highlights included a $1.8 million increase for Health Services, totaling a budget of $747.6 million; $3.1 million increase for Environmental Protection for a $21.1 million budget; and a $38.3 million increase to Human Services for a budget of $443.7 million.

Supervisor Chuck Winn, who represents District 4, of which Lodi is a part, said the county is focusing its revenues and taxpayer monies in the right areas with the approval of this year’s budget.

“Obviously we’d like to have more available funds to a variety of much needed projects,” he said. “One of those is the county’s homeless population. It’s more complicated than people think, because it takes county resources and city services to find a solution. But I think the Continuum of Care is doing a great job helping homeless people find a way out of that situation.”

During the budget hearings last week, supervisors discussed creating a policy making the homeless issue an operational priority for all departments.

The proposed policy will be discussed at the board’s July 23 meeting.

The county’s unfunded pension liability is still challenging financial sustainability, as $211.1 million in pension costs will make up 11.71 percent of the budget.

In 2014-15, pension costs were $117.5 million and 8.69 percent of the budget. In 2009-10, costs were $98.4 million and made up 7.76 percent of the budget.

The 2019-20 budget includes $23.9 million to be used for unfunded retirement liability contributions. As of March 31, the balance of the county’s Unfunded Pension Liability Reserve was $25.5 million.

“We’re not the only municipality dealing with this issue,” Winn said. “One thing we are doing is to pay down on our future debt as (the liability) continues to grow. We’re doing the best we can to get ahead of it by allocating additional funds into the account each year.”

The complete budget can be found online at https://tinyurl.com/yya4gk42.

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