Editor: Here are a series of reports by the Center on Policy Initiatives – a labor-and progressive-aligned think tank here in San Diego – about our San Diego County government, its employees, its revenues and services.
County Employees: Overworked and Undermined
County employees report chaotic system fails low-income residents
In San Diego County’s efforts to improve its public assistance enrollment system have backfired – degrading service quality, accountability, and job performance – according to the employees doing the work.
CPI and the San Diego State University are releasing a report based on a survey of 342 county employees and a review of county data. The study, County Employees: Overworked and Undermined , reveals a chaotic and stressful environment at the Family Resource Centers, where low-income county residents apply for assistance such as food stamps, health programs and temporary aid.
San Diego County Revenues and Reserves
While trailing in services, San Diego County amassed $2.2 billion in reserves
In SAN DIEGO COUNTY REVENUES AND RESERVES: A comparative analysis of California’s largest counties, CPI reveals that the San Diego County Board of Supervisors has accumulated $2.2 billion in unspent reserves,while restricting safety net services during a recession.
The county’s end-of-year fund balances total almost 60% of expenditures, compared to an average of 42% among other major California counties, the study found. The report shows that San Diego County further starves its own budget by bringing in unusually low amounts of all types of revenue.
“San Diego County has not prioritized the essential health and social services it is obligated to provide,” said CPI Executive Director Clare Crawford. “Good fiscal stewardship is not just a matter of putting money in the bank. It requires wise spending to meet your responsibilities and prevent greater future costs.”
“This county has been saving for a rainy day during a monsoon,” she said.
The report, San Diego County Revenues and Reserves, compares budget and spending data for the 12 largest counties in California. San Diego has long trailed other counties in providing services, for instance by enrolling less than half of those eligible for Medi-Cal.
Spending more of its revenue on local services would help create jobs and boost the local economy, as well as helping people struggling in the recession, said study author Vladimir Kogan. The County Board’s decision to instead build up excessive reserves is a trade-off with real consequences. “
County Fiscal Policies Squeeze San Diego’s Core Public Services
by Vlad Kogan / Voice of San Diego
Over the past two years, several independent studies and analyses have documented the abysmal levels of public services provided by the county of San Diego.
A recent investigation by voiceofsandiego.org and the Rose Institute found San Diego at the bottom compared to other major counties in the state in the provision of basic social services to the region’s most vulnerable residents.
Others have noted that, until recently, San Diego was the only large county in the state without an organized fire department — something that no doubt hampered the region’s ability to contain and extinguish the 2007 wildfires — and still spends far less than others on regional fire protection.
The response from our Board of Supervisors has generally been to blame the state — both for saddling the county with onerous responsibilities without providing the money necessary to fund them and for failing to deliver additional revenue to expand essential public services such as fire protection.
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