SD supervisors outline mental health investments and park spending at budget meetings
San Diego County supervisors outlined changes to mental health systems, workplace justice and parks in their $ 7 billion budget proposal for fiscal year 2021-2022, and they listened to the comments. audience on spending priorities in virtual meetings.
Supervisor Nathan presented highlights of the county’s budget proposal to an online town hall on Thursday. And on Monday, the supervisory board held a meeting to receive comments on the changes.
The Board will hold another public hearing at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday to seek public comments.
âOur county is in a time of great transition,â Fletcher said at Thursday’s meeting. âWe have a new supervisory board, we tackle new issues, we fund new things. I am very excited about this budget and excited about all the new opportunities. “
Most of the budget, $ 2.7 billion, or 39% of the total, will go to the Health and Social Services Agency, and a large portion is devoted to mental and behavioral health.
For example, Fletcher said, $ 10 million is planned for a Behavioral Health Crisis Center, which will be used to stabilize people facing mental health emergencies. Another $ 8.65 million will be used to improve behavioral health operations and data reporting.
The county is also restructuring its psychiatric emergency response teams, known as PERT units, to send mental health care providers instead of law enforcement officers to deal with mental health crises. .
âWe know that if an individual is not a danger to himself or to someone else, we don’t need to apply the law in that situation,â Fletcher said. “We expect our mobile response teams to start operating across the county at the end of the summer.”
The county is also adding its office of immigrant and refugee affairs, which will connect people with services and resources, and the county is expanding its services in various languages, Fletcher said.
âNo matter what language you speak, when you have to pay your taxes, we take your money,â Fletcher said.
Funding for parks and recreation is expected to reach $ 60.5 million, compared to $ 56.5 million for the current fiscal year. Those spending will include an expansion of Waterfront Park in partnership with the Padres, Fletcher said, and improvements to Heritage Park, a historic district next to Old San Diego that includes several preserved Victorian homes and the city’s first synagogue. , The Temple Beth Israel.
Speakers at Monday’s budget hearing also expressed concerns about the county’s parks.
Several stakeholders opposed a new park planned for the Alpine community, arguing that it would be built on sensitive habitat and replace the natural environment with an urban-style sports facility.
âThese recreational fads come to fruition, this is a budget for the past, not for a sustainable future,â said Frank Landis, president of conservation for the San Diego chapter of the California Native Plant Society.
George Barnett, member of the Alpine Community Planning Group, said the new park is badly needed and long overdue for the rural area.
âTwo-thirds of Alpine residents do not have access to any parks in the county,â he said. âThey need this park for mental health, physical health and recreation. “
Dan Shea, executive director of Feeding San Diego, thanked the county for providing food assistance during the pandemic, noting that many San Diegans who had never experienced hunger before were turning to food banks after losing food. income due to lockdowns and economic disruption. He said food aid should be a permanent priority in next year’s budget.
âFood insecurity affects not only low-income people, but also those who never thought they would need any assistance,â he said. âThe loss of dignity of having to seek help for the first time is devastating for them. “