Orange County’s proposed budget for the 2022-23 fiscal year released Wednesday is about $1.1 billion bigger than last year’s.

The county’s annual spending plan is $8.8 billion, up from $7.7 billion last year, which reflects a combination of inflation and additional revenue from the state and federal governments to meet a rising demand for services during the COVID-19 pandemic, Orange County CEO Frank Kim said.

“The vast majority of the county’s budgets are related to services, and a lot of them are reimbursed by the state and federal governments,” Kim said. “When you see inflation, cost-of-living increases and demand for services our budget scales not only with operational demands for services, but they also scale with inflation and as the cost of doing business grows.

“I think it’s a natural reflection of not only of changing demand from the public for services, but it’s also for inflation.”

Kim said sales tax revenue is up 9.1% from May 2021, and that is primary source of revenue for law enforcement services.

“Overall, sales tax in the county is strong,” Kim said.

The county received $308.4 million in American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 funding for COVID-19 relief the last fiscal year and anticipates getting the same amount before the end of the current fiscal year. That funding was used to help pay for meals for the needy, economic support to arts-related small businesses and nonprofit organizations, and the development of a new emergency medical services operating facility at the former El Toro air base in Irvine.

The county is also developing a mental health facility in Irvine, called the Be Well South Campus, and a new campus for juvenile offenders as the state shifts more responsibility for low-level defendants to local authorities.

County officials are also developing an improved information-sharing process among agencies in an attempt to help assist the needy, homeless and those with mental health issues, Kim said.

“We’re looking to see how we can share information without violating privacy laws,” Kim said. “What we’re realizing is if a client is getting (welfare) they may be someone in and out of homelessness or on probation, or they’ve been arrested by the sheriff…. So we’re going to create a client file so that it can be shared legally among the different departments.”

Sharing the information will help the agencies provide a more coordinated response, Kim said.

The county is expecting $44.6 million in property tax revenue in the next fiscal year.

The proposed budget anticipated setting aside $417.4 million from Proposition 172 sales tax revenue for public safety. Of that, 80% goes to the sheriff’s department and the rest to the District Attorney’s Office. That’s a 6% increase over last fiscal year.

The county is expected to add 178 more jobs.

The county is still getting shorted on security for the state’s courthouses, officials said. The county spent $15.7 million to plug a gap from the 2019-20 to 2020-21 fiscal years and are projecting gaps of $16.8 million and $10.5 million in the 2021-22 and 2022-23 fiscal years.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *