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Supervisors pass $2.7 billion budget for fiscal year 2018-19

The Kern County Board of Supervisors passed a $2.7 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2018-19 on Tuesday with few changes from the preliminary budget passed in June.

The budget attempts to rectify the $44.5 million deficit the county found itself in three years ago.

Last fiscal year, the county passed a budget that was $2.1 billion.

The county is in the third year of a four-year deficit mitigation plan. Most departments were asked to cut their budgets by 2.5 percent this year in order to help reduce the deficit.

After two years, the county has reduced the deficit to $17.9 million, with a further $3 million in deficit reduction hoped to be realized at the end of this fiscal year.

Public safety departments, such as the Sheriff’s Office and Fire Department did not have to enact cuts.

County officials said the public safety departments were operating at the bare minimum level, and could not undergo cuts without impacts to service levels.

Included in the overall deficit is a deficit of $7.5 million in the Fire Department budget. The supervisors are working with the Fire Department to come up with a plan to reduce the deficit, although at this point in time little progress has been made.

Despite the lean budget presented to supervisors, some county departments were granted requests.

District Attorney Lisa Green and incoming DA Cynthia Zimmer received two additional investigators for the DA’s Public Integrity Unit.

Green has said in the past the DA needs the additional investigators to move through cases more quickly. The unit had been operating with one investigator, and a backlog has formed of cases to be looked into.

The supervisors also granted the Kern County Homeless Center $200,000 to help the center alleviate funding difficulties it has undergone over the past fiscal year.

The supervisors unanimously approved the one-time funds.

You can reach Sam Morgen at 661-395-7415 or smorgen@bakersfield.com. You may also follow him on Twitter @smorgenTBC

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