County supervisors approve $3.5B budget

Officials: County benefits from strong local economy, but changes could lie ahead

The Alameda County Board of Supervisors have signed off on a $3.5 billion budget for the new fiscal year that began on July 1.

County officials said the budget is balanced and closes a $60.4 million funding gap without significant reductions to services or staff.

The funding gap is the difference between the cost of maintaining existing county programs and projected revenues.

Alameda County officials said the budget includes funding increases to community service providers, allows them to continue building their financial reserves and supports a workforce of nearly 9,900 employees.

The county continues to benefit from a strong local economy, as unemployment hovered at an historic low of 2.7% as of April, but county officials warn that more challenging times could soon lie ahead.

"After years of economic strength, signs of an economic downturn in the near future are stronger than they have been in years," County Administrator Susan Muranishi said in a statement.

"This possibility means that we could soon be facing significant additional challenges in funding core services for county residents," Muranishi said.

County officials said the budget calls for spending to grow to $625 million for nearly 300 community-based organizations that provide health and human services, housing, community development and public safety services.

The county also continues to devote substantial resources to address the region's worsening homelessness problem, as the budget contains $130.2 million in increased spending on that issue.

Alameda County officials said their concerns about a possible recession are heightened by the county's growing reliance on support from state and federal sources, which account for more than 60% of its general fund.

Supervisor Keith Carson, the chair of the county's budget workgroup, said, "We know that when there is budget pain in Washington, D.C., and Sacramento it is always going to be passed on to local communities like Alameda County."

— Bay City News Service

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