Santa Clara County approves $8.17B budget for next year

By Bay City News Service

Santa Clara County on Friday approved its budget for the next year, allocating $8.17 billion in funding for youth projects, land preservation, criminal justice reform and healthcare, among many other 

The next year will see the integration of the newly acquired O'Connor and St. Louise hospitals into the county health system, the doubling in size of the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center emergency room, a new animal services center, construction of a Vietnamese-American Service Center, implementation of the Voter's Choice Act and a new juvenile and adult psychiatric center.

The Board of Supervisors also allocated over $6 million in funding to local organizations not included in County Executive Dr. Jeffrey Smith's original budget, including nonprofits working for the homeless, veterans and in children's healthcare and environmental conservation.

"We're fortunate to be living in relatively prosperous times, but there are still so many folks who need our help." Board President Joe Simitian said in a statement. "Even in good times, there's always more we wish we could do; so our budget becomes more than just an accounting document, it's the place where we identify our priorities, make hard choices and express our values."

Funding will also go toward existing budgets for law enforcement and jails, homeless services, land use, medical and behavioral health programs. 

Smith said last week that the county should focus on existing programs instead of new initiatives in preparation for an economic downturn. 

He reiterated this message after the budget was approved Friday.

"I'm pleased to see a balanced budget focusing on completing crucial initiatives, strengthening existing services and funding non-profit programs that benefit our community," he said in a statement.

"This budget is our last year of expansion before an economic downturn is upon us. Revenue growth is slowing down. Funding threats are expected from the state and federal governments. Maintaining existing services and prudent spending are expected priorities for the future," he added.