SLO County adopts budget with more than $5 million deficit

July 5, 2023


The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 last month, with Supervisor Debbie Arnold dissenting, to adopt a budget with a deficit of more than $5 million.

During budget negotiations, Arnold argued that amid the current economic climate, the board should not expand programs and increase staffing levels while handing out large administrative raises. In addition, Arnold wanted road maintenance to stay a top-tier priority.

However, the new liberal majority did not agree. Shortly after Supervisor Jimmy Paulding took his seat on the board, Supervisor Bruce Gibson suggested removing county road repairs from the top tier and replacing it with services that focus on homelessness.

“I really don’t agree with the board’s priorities,” Arnold said explaining her no vote. “This budget expands programs and staff.”

While the board agreed that public safety should remain a top priority, road maintenance was removed from the top tier and replaced with homelessness, behavioral health and housing through partnerships with nonprofits.

Before voting yes, Paulding voiced support of the 2023-2024 fiscal year budget.

“I just want to say, we did a good job,” Paulding said.

In 2022, the board voted to approve raises of up to 23% for county administrators and management staff, an increase that is slated to raise 2023-2024 county costs by $9,796,000.

At that time, Arnold said that while she supports cost of living raises, she could not vote for the pricey equity pay increases. The proposed raises passed with Arnold and then-Supervisor Lynn Compton dissenting.

On June 20, the board voted 4-1 to pass a $966 million budget with a more than $5 million deficit.

“I feel uncomfortable passing an over $5 million deficit budget,” Arnold said.

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It’s like me asking 5 of my neighbors if they think it’s okay for me to overdraw my checking account. If the majority says yes, then it’s perfectly ok right? However, there will come a time that I will have to reckon with the fact I’m spending more than I’m making. Of course if we are following the lead of the Federal Government it’s ok to be in debt 32 TRILLION. So SLO County at 5 million is doing great. Right? Guess I’ll go out and write some bad checks now:)

Sounds like a lot. A $5 million shortfall is really money. No argument.

But context says this represents a.005% shortfall on nearly $1 Billion budget. Which is not bad at all.

Context informs your readers. Not providing it inflames them.

Payrolls have risen nationally, more jobs than expected were created in June. No reason to think that won’t be the case in SLO County.

In fact, the economy continues to grow at about 2-3% despite the naysayers, such as Ms. Arnold.

California’s economy is still the FOURTH largest in the WORLD. I think we can afford these things. The Republicans want to panic, as usual and mimic Chicken Little.

We really need to get a handle on the homeless issue and now is the time.

We also elected these five to do more than one thing at once.

Looking for my usual share of abuse here, but I feel compelled to point out something that seems lost on most of the commentors. If you are disappointed that the government is not being run “like a business” in the capitalist sense of the word, I would ask one question: If a family member needed medical attention and lost their housing and you did not currently have the funds to address that emergency, would you simply “cut your losses” and get rid of them, or would you borrow the money to attend to that need? Or would you prioritize fixing the driveway?

The job of the government is not to show a profit, it is to serve the needs of the population, which means treating all citizens like one, big family. We The People.. One Nation… Indivisible… Wanna “make America great”? How about we make more of an attempt to live up to that, instead of whining endlessly about the supposed crimes of the “libs”, when your own are the ones who have run up deficits every time they are in office and the “libs” who have the burden of correcting them are the ones who you blame. Don’t think that no one notices this. Take the federal budget, for instance. Go back as far as you like.

Were they (the libs) not addressing the homeless problem, that would be the battle cry of those who have many more complaints than answers. I will be more impressed when more of these anonymous whiners either come up with some useful suggestions or at least start using their real names.

“The job of the government is not to show a profit”, I think many of us know that, but we wouldn’t have an issue if the government just broke even, spending only as much as you take in.

Also, your analogy “you did not currently have the funds to address that emergency, would you simply “cut your losses” and get rid of them” doesn’t seem to apply when the $5 million debt would be completely gone if they didn’t just give out $9 million in raises, even though to much anyway any reason not reduce raises by half and having a balanced budget?

Exactly why those we elect should, as their primary responsibility, always be finding ways to cut costs and streamline government. When the board of Supervisors gives themselves a big fat pay raise, it’s a sign they are clueless and don’t care about taxpayers. Inevitably, it’s up to voters and frankly, they don’t seem to get “it”. If they did politicians like Bruce Gibson would have been gone a long time ago.

Keep it up, Debbie. Without you we’re a lost cause.