A yearly decision that makes a huge impact on the community: the county budget approved by the Kern County Board of Supervisors. For the 2023-2024 fiscal year, the budget consists of $4.4 billion.
March is the startoff month for budget talk, and spending plans are implemented in early September.
A majority of the funds will be given to improving election integrity and public safety in the county, where local officials are wanting more allocation given to law enforcement.
Jeff Flores, a chairman on the Kern County Board of Supervisors, has hear an array of concerns from the unhoused community to vandalization with him wanting what is best for locals.
“Public safety, sheriff's office, boots on the ground, in the neighborhoods, because people are frustrated when we have our downtown businesses broken into, mom-and-pop shops that are suffering, our corridors that are saturated with marijuana pot shops,” the chairman said.
Flores' intentions are increasing the workforce for deputies in detention facilities so that sheriffs can be more on the scene on the outside, ensuring that the pay is secure and competitive for retainment purposes.
“That's what it takes to keep the public safe, and that's what the public really expects,” Flores said.
For the first time ever, Measure K funds will be used under the budget, that will assist in community safety for Kern.
Measure K is a one-cent sales tax increase for unincorporated Kern that passed during the midterm elections. Fund collections began in April. It too emphasizes public safety.
Most of Measure K's nearly $56 million funds will be used for the fire departments and sheriff's department.
This is due to neighborhoods not having their own police force, Flores claimed. The sheriff's office is relied on, and their funding is relied on by the board.
Other components funded for the county include ballot drop surveillance cameras, ballot sorters, hiring more election staff, and ballot boxes. The election integrity is already on its way. More projects that will be supported by the annual budget are to be announced.