Santa Barbara County Executive Officer Chandra Wallar offered a budget proposal last week cutting $1.2 million from the Human Services Commission’s funding.
The proposed budget reduction would decrease the organization’s staffing and eliminate financing for 65 nonprofit organizations that promote human service programs including the Rape Crisis Center and Family Service Agency. The SBC Board of Supervisors will review the proposal on June 15 before voting on the finalized budget.
According to 3rd District Supervisor Doreen Farr, the board will weigh constituents’ concerns before making the cuts.
“I go out in the community and visit the nonprofits,” Farr said. “I see the work they do and realize how valuable it is. It is an issue of great concern to me and as recipients come forward, I will be taking what they have to say to heart.”
Despite the need for spending reductions, 1st District Supervisor Salud Carbajal said the commission’s services should not shoulder the burden of decreased funding.
“You have to make a list of priorities when deciding where to make cuts,” Carbajal said. “My priorities are public safety and health services that provide for the most needy in our community.
Although the HSC has already allocated the $1.2 million through community grants to selected nonprofits, the budget would restrict the commission from issuing further finances to several other local groups.
Carbajal said the county’s short-term solution would be destructive to the community in the future. “These grants are the most effective, well-placed investments to meet the needs of our most vulnerable residents,” Carbajal said. “If we make cuts to these now, we will be paying for it later.”
Past grant recipients include the Family Service Agency, Isla Vista Youth Projects and the Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center.
Farr said funding the agencies directly benefits the local community.
“I think the grant money that is given out — dollar for dollar — provides enormous benefit,” Farr said. “If you can assist people early on you can save money down the road. I think that what the repercussions of that might be needs to be an important part of the board’s discussion.”