This chart represents the total Kern County 2015-2016 adopted budget. The breakdown below only includes the discretionary spending of the Kern County Board of Supervisors.
General Government $139,522,913
Public Protection $784,633,222
Public Ways and Facilities $74,640,835
Health and Sanitation $297,991,446
Public Assistance $640,233,760
Recreation and Cultural Services $13,145,538
Debt Service $23,050,508
Appropriation for Contingencies - general purpose $12,363,699
Provision for Reserves and Designations $85,393,552
Kern County has declared a Fiscal Emergency in January 2015, has it struggled to absorb a $77 million dollar loss of Property Tax revenue. This loss of revenue resulted from a decline in the assessed value of oil and gas properties because of the falling market value of oil. Due to the lack of revenue, a 15% cut to the General Fund department is being implemented over the next 4 years.
Unemployment is at 10%, an increase of 6% since 2015, 14.5% of the population have less than a 9th grade education, 26.4% of folks have a High School Diploma or Equivalent, and sadly only 5.1% of Kern County’s population has a graduate/professional degree. In 2014, 23.4% of people in Kern County were living at or below the Poverty Level. Kern County has an average age of residents at 31 years, with a population looking to grow 10% between 2015- 2020.
Kern County’s total budget is 2.5 Billion, a decrease of 542.2 million from FY 2014-2015 and Public Protection is the highest funded department receiving 56.1% of the county’s total budget. Public Assistance is at 19% of the county’s total budget, and Health and Sanitation is at 19% of the county’s total budget. The Sheriff's office requested another 6.3 million in funding from the Board of Supervisors, the Board approved 2.8 million, while money is set aside for infrastructure replacement in FY 2016-17.
With a growing population, and a growing number of people unemployed or underemployed, the amount of people living in poverty will increase. The county is facing increased costs for staffing of a new jail, so while another jail is built, we still have one university in Kern.
We desire the Kern County invest a greater portion of the county’s budget towards health and human services for fiscal year 2017 and beyond. Designating and identifying culturally competent health care service providers within the communities, outside of the correctional system and punitive justice construct, will improve the conditions of our communities. We need to focus on the wellbeing and health of our residence through preventive and interventional approaches through healthy human services and restorative justice instead of using police to administer social services. California Partnership believes every human being should be treated with dignity and respected and we will continue to champion policies and demand transparency, accountability and proper implementation, at state and county levels until the budgets reflective our communities unique needs to create a better quality of life for the people. Through the formation of impactful policies, identifying budget priorities with our coalition of organizations we work to create policies which improve the lives of the people in communities and state.