Alameda County Board of Supervisors approves $3.5B county budget

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The Alameda County Board of Supervisors approved its 2019-20 budget Friday, according to a Friday press release from Alameda County.

The $3.5 billion budget balances and closes a more than $60 million gap in funding without “significant reductions to services or staff,” according to the press release. It includes roughly $130 million to help combat homelessness and more than $900 million for health care services.

According to Melissa Male — a spokesperson for Supervisor Keith Carson, the representative for Alameda County’s District 5 — it is a budget Carson believes will reflect values of a “healthy environment, safe & livable communities, a thriving & resilient population, and a prosperous & vibrant economy.”

The total spent by the county on homelessness will reach more than $350 million in the next three years, according to the press release. According to Male, the money spent to combat homelessness will go toward both “critical services,” such as support with outreach and health, and “supportive services,” such as providing shelters and homelessness prevention.

“While we cannot solve this problem alone, working in partnership with our cities and community based organizations, the County is committed to ending homelessness,” Male said in an email.

The city of Berkeley is still analyzing the impacts of the budget on the city, according to city spokesperson Erin Steffen.

Health care also made up more than 27 percent of the budget.

“Health care is a critical service that the County is mandated to provide — particularly for low-income individuals and families, seniors, and people with disabilities,” Male said in an email. “The County is particularly proud to provide health care services to residents regardless of immigration status.”

According to the budget proposal, one of the 2026 visions for Alameda County is health care for all. In an effort to balance the budget, however, the county cut more than $60 million from the maintenance of effort budget, including $12 million from health care.

The need to balance the budget comes in part from the county’s reliance on the state and federal governments, whose contributions constitute more than 60 percent of the budget, according to the press release. According to Alameda County Administrator Susan Muranishi in the press release, this worries legislators about the event of economic downturn, which seems more likely to happen than it has in recent years. According to the press release, if an economic downturn were to happen, state budget deficits and historic federal debt would prevent local funding.

“We know that when there is budget pain in Washington D.C. and Sacramento, it is always going to be passed on to local communities like Alameda County,” Carson said in the press release.

Contact Lev Gordon-Feierabend at [email protected].