Stanislaus County budget is $1.38 billion. Cannabis, parks and cameras spur hiring

Stanislaus County unveiled a $1.38 billion budget for the year starting July 1, with some additional hiring and funds dedicated to addressing homelessness.

It represents a 2.4 percent increase over the 2018-19 budget for the county of almost 560,000 residents.

Next year’s spending plan includes a $361.8 million general fund for covering the costs of public safety, criminal justice, parks and recreation and other daily services.

The budget proposes a net increase of 62 authorized positions in the county government workforce over the final budget for 2018-19.

Patrice Dietrich, county assistant executive officer, said some of those positions were added in the current year and 36 are recommended for the coming year.

The Sheriff’s Department is adding five positions to enforce cannabis regulations, and also was approved for three school resource officers.

Another added expense are the body cameras worn by sheriff’s deputies to record encounters with subjects. The county budget includes two positions in the District Attorney’s office, and one in the sheriff’s office, to download and review video footage for cases.

The budget also recommends six positions for county Parks and Recreation, which will become a new county department. The division is credited with marketing park facilities for events and increasing park visits.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Terry Withrow said the county is facing significant spending items with the attempts to deal with rising homelessness. But the county has received support from the state for that purpose.

“There was one-time funding of about $9.7 million from the state, including the $2.5 million from the state that (Assemblyman) Adam Gray got for us,” Withrow said.

In a partnership with city of Modesto and the Salvation Army, the county is developing a permanent access center for the homeless coupled with a low-barrier emergency shelter planned on Ninth Street.

In addition, the county has an Outreach and Engagement Center in downtown Modesto that provides assistance to the homeless. And various county departments staff a Community Assessment, Response and Engagement team, which works with homeless people who cause distress in the community.

The proposed budget includes $6.8 million in additional general fund spending in departments to support stronger and safer neighborhoods

Jody Hayes, county chief executive officer, said the budget builds on a strong foundation the county has laid during the years of economic recovery.

Officials are encouraged by fairly strong performance in important revenue categories. The budget projects a 4 percent increase in revenue from property taxes next year. Sales-tax revenue is expected to increase by 2 percent.

The Board of Supervisors could approve the spending plan following a public hearing June 18 starting at 6:30 p.m.

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