Budget woes continuing for California cities and counties

Santa Clara County reports a $223-million deficit as Alameda County wrestles with a $182-million budget gap

Santa Clara County yesterday released a proposed budget for the 2011 fiscal year that addresses a $223.2 million deficit in the county's general fund through program and service cuts, use of one-time revenue and layoffs. The $4.2 billion recommended budget takes into account all services, operations, capital improvements and reserves.

That follows Alameda County officials who are wrestling with a $182 million deficit for fiscal year 2010-11. Supervisors, including Supervisor Scott Haggerty, have agreed to apply a $30 million set aside as a contingency contribution for the county's personnel retirement fund toward the gap, bringing the shortfall down to $152 million for now.

Just as other local governments have been affected by a weak economy, Santa Clara County Executive Jeff Smith said his county's budget has found its revenue decreasing as demand for county safety net services increases. Next year will be the ninth consecutive year of budget deficits for Santa Clara County, Smith said.

"Local governments struggle everyday to provide needed services with dwindling resources, a situation that has grown astronomically during the current economic crisis," Smith said. "The impact of the current economic recession has been devastating to families in Santa Clara County, the state of California, and across the country."

The proposed budget fills the deficit with $84.8 million in program and service cuts, and one-time funding sources that total $138.4 million. A total of 193 full-time positions would be eliminated.

Besides reductions, the budget proposes new initiatives in health and law enforcement programs. One such example is eliminating duplication between the sheriff's office and the department of correction in personnel, internal affairs and administration, which could result in an estimated $5 million savings, Smith said. Under the new plan, correctional officers will continue to receive specialized training and the sheriff will exercise authority in providing correctional officers the right to carry weapons.

Smith said although the national economy appears to be improving, the county's fiscal challenges over the next five years will require collaboration and cooperation.

Alameda County's funding gap is one of the county's larger ones and, like Santa Clara's, will have to eliminated before settling on a balanced budget by the end of June. Last year, the county was able to eliminate a $178 million gap. The county also has faced shortfalls of $156 million in 2003-04 and $172 million in 1993-94.

Last year, Alameda County eliminated about 235 full-time jobs, although mainly through attrition and by removing unfilled positions from the job roster.

Bay City News contributed to this report.

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Like this comment
Posted by Unions are the problem
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 4, 2010 at 9:07 pm

Until California deals with the unions and stops the unreasonable perks, salaries and benefits like pensions, the state and cities in it will continue to be bankrupt.

Eventually, the private sector will be even more unabe to support such unreasonable salaries.

90K for a janitor? 220K for a retired police? Get real and fix this nonsense before it is too late!

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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