The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors will receive a report during Tuesday’s meeting on the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2019-20.
The report will provide a look at the county’s year-end financial position relative to the FY 2019-20 adjusted budget.
“COVID-19 continued to notably affect fourth quarter expenditures and revenues,” the staff report reads. “In the General Fund, various departments as well as major discretionary revenue sources experienced significant financial impacts of both the pandemic response activities as well as the related economic downturn.”
The county ended with a net positive of $3.8 in the general fund, more than $4 million less than the $8 million positive balance in the year prior. Though general revenues ended the fiscal year $6.5 million above budget, the revenue was offset by deficits in various county departments.
The departments that ended the fiscal year with positive net variances due to salary savings or higher-than-anticipated revenues included: Probation ($851,000); Auditor-Controller ($700,000); and Treasurer-Tax Collector ($607,000).
The positive variances were partially offset by negative variances in other departments, including: the Sheriff’s Department ($4.4 million); Community Services-Parks Division ($398,000); and Planning & Development ($229,000), according to the staff report.
The Public Defender, District Attorney, Community Services and Human Resources departments also ended the year with “slightly negative variances,” which county officials said reflects the participation in contact tracing, Emergency Operations Center support, and other activities outside the normal scope of responsibilities, the staff report reads.
The larger deficits are also attributed to the pandemic.
“Special Revenue Funds are required to end the year balanced, so those funds are not included in this update,” the staff report states.
The county Public Health Department used $2 million in fund balance and the county Behavior Wellness Department used $6 million to cover COVID-19 revenue and expenditure impacts, according to officials.
Also on Tuesday, the board will receive an update on the status of cannabis tax collection, land use permitting, business licensing, state licensing and enforcement.
During the fourth quarter of the county’s cannabis program efforts, the county collected $5.5 million in gross receipts tax paid by 50 operators. To date, 199 applications have been submitted for land-use entitlements and 23 land-use entitlements have been submitted.
State data indicates that operators held 999 state provisional licenses and 222 state annual licenses in the county, according to the staff report.
A total of 45 operators submitted applications to obtain 75 business licenses, of which 16 have been issued.
In the fourth quarter, the county completed seven enforcement actions against illegal cannabis operators, resulting in the seizure of 5,030 pounds of dried cannabis and 40 lbs. of cannabis extract. Twenty-two arrests were made, and the confiscation has an estimated street value of $4.7 million, according to the staff report.
For fiscal year 2019-20, the county received $12.2 million in cannabis tax revenue, up from $6.7 million in FY 2018-19.
The board will also receive an update on the county’s COVID-19 response and ongoing operations surrounding the novel coronavirus.
In other business Tuesday, the board will hold a hearing to consider appeals filed by the Gaviota Coast Conservancy and the Coastal Ranches Conservancy regarding the county Planning Commission’s approval of the Caltrans Goleta Culvert project.
The culvert project was approved by the county Planning Commission in May. Two appeals were filed by the Gaviota Coast Conservancy and the Coastal Ranches Conservancy within the 10-day appeal period.
The project is a request to authorize the replacement of an existing culvert off Highway 101 in the Canada del Barro drainage on the Gaviota Coast that has “extensive cracking, spalling, and moderate scour behind and underneath the existing left inlet wingwall,” according to the staff report.
The new culvert alignment would be located just west of the existing culvert, while the existing culvert would be filled with grout and abandoned in place.
The Coastal Ranches Conservancy appeal asserts that the environmental document neglects to adequately address wildlife passage through the culvert, Caltrans failed to follow its internal regulations related to investigating wildlife at the site, loss of State Park property due to the project, and that off-site mitigation should be located along Gaviota Creek as opposed to Refugio Creek.
The Gaviota Coast Conservancy appeal states that the Planning Commission staff report and the Mitigated Negative Declaration fail to incorporate and analyze “relevant Gaviota Coast Plan policies, particularly policies concerning trails and wildlife corridors,” according to the staff report.
The GCC also states that the project fails to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act.
County staff says that the project complies with all applicable CEQA requirements and that the policies cited by the appellants “are not relevant.”
Tuesday’s meeting is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. The meeting will be streamed live online at www.countyofsb.org and on YouTube at www.youtube.com/user/csbtv20.