Questions for our county supervisor: Butte County Behavioral Health gets $61 million a year in “Revenue Transfers” – is that the money they get for taking crazy people from other counties?

20 Jan

I’ve been chatting with Chico PD and my third district supervisor Maureen Kirk about transients, illegal camping, and crime in our neighborhoods. When I read that city council had just agreed to more money and more staffing for Chico PD – even when our city manager tells me our “resources” are “constrained” –  I had to ask, does this mean more cops in Bidwell Park to rout the illegal campers? 

O’brien responded, “Both the Rangers and our Police Officers move campers out of the Park, but it is helpful to have the specifics as to when and where.  I am including Interim Lieutenant Scott Zuschin in this email and would ask that you reach out to him specifically with the specifics of the camping sites.”

What do you hear – I hear “No!” I also hear, “we will continue to expect you to do our job…”

When Kirk chimed in to complain about crime in her Cal Park neighborhood, I told her I’d just seen a tent encampment along that little creek that runs adjacent to Hwy 32 east, in that new Oak Valley subdivision.  I just saw the little tent again yesterday, just below the new Cal Water tower.

I also told Kirk I believe Butte County Behavioral Health is behind this problem, because they bring transients here from other counties, selling “beds”, as BH director Dorian Kittrell  calls spaces at the psychiatric facility, known officially as “The Puff”.  Kittrell told me the county  gets $550 a day for housing a patient. The county passed an ordinance last year allowing BH to place people on a 45-day involuntary hold. At $550 a day, that’s $22,500 for each person, for a month and a half of cooling their heels at The Puff.

Here’s one man’s story, about how he was 5150’d in the town he’d lived for 30 years, and then ended up at the Torres Shelter by way of shelters in Yuba City and Oroville.

When I shared this story with Kirk she  responded, “I don’t agree with your conclusion that we are bringing people into Butte County for financial gain. It seems that the author of the article brought himself to Butte County.”

Does Kirk even understand what a 5150 is?  This woman’s refusal and denial are a huge part of the problem. I told her I’d look at the county budget and get back to her. Here’s the adopted 2016-17 budget:

You can skip to Behavioral Health through the table of contents:

This budget is not written for the public to understand, but I did learn some stuff.  One phrase I kept seeing again and again was “Intergovernmental Revenue”, another was “Revenue Transfer.” I suspect this is the funding received with these patients that travel from county to county like a plague – they bring funding, funding to pay salaries and benefits.

Here’s a report that explains things in more human terms:

There you see, according to BH director Dorian Kittrell, $61 million a year in transfers. I forwarded this information to Kirk and asked her for an explanation. We’ll see if she gets back to me, I think she’s a little pissed off right now.

As for the little tent along Hwy 32, Chief O’Brien forwarded my concerns to Public Relations Officer Zuchin, and he responded:

“The Target team linked up with realtor Tamara Lambert-Valencia from Coldwell Banker DuFour to address the encampment issue near the water tower located inside the new Oak Valley subdivision two weeks ago. This camp is no longer an issue.”

Really? It was still there yesterday, rain fly  a flappin’, bicycles with carts piled up next to the  tent, a well-worn  path off Humboldt Road. Well see if it stands through this dumper, but I don’t  think the cops  are going to do anything about it. That area has been a homeless camp for years. 

Hey Maureen,  keep your garage locked!

UPDATE:  Kirk responded with an e-mail from Behavioral Health Director Dorian Kittrell:

Hi Maureen

The overall budget is approximately 61 million dollars.  This total comprises the county general fund contribution of roughly $280,000 dollars which gives the county access to state and federal funding via state sales tax revenues and vehicle license fees.  The dollars (also known as “realignment revenue”) is spent on treatment which includes outpatient and inpatient services.  In spending these dollars we are able to receive federal (medi-cal) reimbursement (anywhere from  50% to 95% of the cost of treatment)  We estimate each year how much reimbursement we will expect to receive based on previous years claims for medi-cal that we received.    When all these at totaled we project the total budget.  Of course, this explanation is a broad overview.  There are also some grant dollars and other funding streams (for example MHSA tax dollars) that add to the total.   I am happy to sit down with Juanita and my finance person if she would like further clarification.

So, “intergovernmental revenues” refers to any dollars that come from local, state or federal government sources.

Call me if you have any questions!


I realize Kittrell’s response is in heavy Bureaucratese, but really, read it – that’s just what I told Kirk in the first place. In fact, it looks like they get all but $280,000 of their BH budget from those transfers.  Does Kirk understand it? Then why did she have to ask Kitrell to explain it?

Maureen, you need to start making plans for that Del Webb  Leisure Village you were talking about. 


4 Responses to “Questions for our county supervisor: Butte County Behavioral Health gets $61 million a year in “Revenue Transfers” – is that the money they get for taking crazy people from other counties?”

  1. bob January 20, 2017 at 3:05 pm #

    This is all a make work program for gooberment employees and the non-government organizations that get gooberment grants.

    They spend God knows how many dollars getting homeless here and then that justifies spending millions more dealing with them. All the gooberment agencies grow due to this (behavioural health, homeless shelters, cops, etc.).

    This ensures all these entities get more staff, more money and more power. (Name one gooberment or grant receiving entity that wants fewer staff, less money and overall less political power? )

    I noticed in the CNR this week their editor is now talking about a sales tax increase for more cops.

    And then there’s the fire dept situation where the grant money ran out.

    I tell you this city is so mismanaged and the special interests are so entrenched they will be coming at us from all directions for tax increases.

    Hang on to your wallet and with both hands if you can!

    • Juanita Sumner January 21, 2017 at 5:54 am #

      Thanks Bob, that’s exactly what I see.

      Go ahead and raise sales tax Chico – we’ve already got “leakage” – when Chico Chamber did that elusive shopper survey a couple of years back little Katy Simmons was EEEEK! aghast at the amount of online shopping Chicoans admitted. According to the numbers that just rolled in off of Christmas, more people are shopping online than ever before, they’ve declared Black Friday DEAD and good riddance. Simmons actually made a plea for more people to shop locally, like she’s got “business” confused with “charity.”

      Yes, we’ve already got CARD looking at a bond or assessment, and I just had to resend the letter I wrote to the Enterprise Record about CARD’s pending phone survey, a week ago. We’ll see if it gets in. I’ll run it myself today.

      • bob January 21, 2017 at 9:56 am #

        The more homeless people in this county the more money, authority and political power these government agencies and NGOs (non-government organizations that feed off the teat of government) receive.

        I wish Kirk was honest enough to admit that. Can she be too clueless to understand that?

        In any event this is why homeless will never be solved.

        There’s a lot of money to be made in treating the symptoms but none to be made by curing the problem.

      • Juanita Sumner January 22, 2017 at 5:24 am #

        Good question about Kirk – is she really stupid or just an amazing actress? Will we ever know?

        At any rate we found another homeless camp right here in lower park. I notified Zuchin yesterday, with pictures, and he has yet to respond. If the camp is there this morning when my husband takes the dog, it’s official – city of Chico is turning a blind eye to camping in Bidwell Park.

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