Santa Barbara County 2020-21 budget expenditures

A chart included in a report on the Santa Barbara County 2020-21 fiscal year budget shows how the $1.19 billion will be divided up.

A total of $500,000 in unallocated funds was set aside to address public demands for reform of the criminal justice system by the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors as they approved a $1.19 billion budget Tuesday.

Board Chairman and 2nd District Supervisor Gregg Hart proposed creating the so-called “equity fund” from $688,200 of unallocated funds. The remaining $188,200 was allocated to the Division of Animal Services as requested by 1st District Supervisor Das Williams, who hoped it might be used to address the potential closing of the animal shelter in Lompoc.

Another $162,000 was reallocated from the Public Health Department’s reserves to continue the assisted outpatient treatment program another three years.

Supervisors approved the funding allocation, the budget and related actions on a 4-1 vote, with 4th District Supervisor Peter Adam dissenting because he wanted the $688,200 to all be spent on a backlog of deferred maintenance work.

Fifth District Supervisor Steve Lavagnino initially made the motion to approve the budget and allocation of money for the equity fund and the assisted outpatient program, but he withdrew it when Williams wanted to give the remaining $188,200 to Animal Services.

Lavagnino didn’t see why Animal Services should get the leftovers when 12 county departments had requests for additional funds.

Their submitted expansion requests for one-time expenses totaled more than $4.4 million, although some would result in ongoing annual costs ultimately totaling more than $12.3 million.

Williams had earlier suggested spending $188,00 on the Public Defender’s Office request to create a “paperless office” by hiring four interns to complete scanning the office’s records into digital files, but he failed to gain support from other supervisors.

Hart called the May 25 killing of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis as “one giant issue” facing county government because of increasing public demands for addressing racism and reforming law enforcement.

“The killing of George Floyd has galvanized this country, and people in our community are demanding government respond to significant, systemic racist issues that exist in our communities across the country,” Hart said.

“And we are just beginning the dialogue about how best to do that and how the county government respond[s],” he said. “And there’s no question that there will be new demands placed on us.”

Hart said this was an opportunity for the county to discuss with the community how to respond to those demands.

“I would think a great way to respond immediately is to dedicate $500,000 of that money to an equity fund that we would have available to respond to concerns and issues the community brings forward over time,” he said.

“We don’t know how we will spend that money, but I would hate to be in a position where we would look to our budget and say, ‘We don’t have a way to respond to legitimate, important requests from the community.’”

Floyd, 46, who was black, was held down by Minneapolis policeman Derek Chauvin, 44, who is white, by kneeling on the back of Floyd’s neck.

Video of the incident showed Floyd begging for relief, saying he couldn’t breathe, but Chauvin refused. Floyd eventually stopped moving and was later declared dead at a hospital.