Sonoma County fills budget shortfall in mental health services but larger gap looms

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The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors approved the use of about $1.9 million tax and redevelopment funds to continue funding mental health and drug abuse services provided by local nonprofit groups.

The funding allows the county Behavioral Health division to continue funding services provided by “community partners” through the end of the current fiscal year. However, officials have said future cuts are likely as the department faces up to a $19 million deficit when the new fiscal year starts in July.

The county’s Health Services Department currently directs $41.7 million to 118 nonprofits that provide an array of services, including supportive housing, criminal justice diversion programs, suicide counseling and psychiatric emergency services.

The division is confronting a deficit in the current budget year of $8.6 million.

A number of cost-savings measures are being implemented to reduce that shortfall, including the use of one-time fund balances and substance abuse prevention and treatment funds. A cut to nonprofit services was proposed to fill about $1.9 million of the revenue gap.

The county will use one-time funds from its hotel bed tax. The county also will use one-time funds from its transient occupancy tax, as well as money once tapped for redevelopment projects.

Use of those sources could affect funding for parks, economic development and some county administrative departments.

You can reach Staff Writer Martin Espinoza at 707-521-5213 or martin.espinoza@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @renofish.

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