County Supervisors on Tuesday took a look at the proposed budget for the next fiscal year, proclaimed it painful and expressed hope — not for the first time — that the state will not make that pain excruciating as it tries to balance its own budget.
The county is facing “another year of the fun State Budget Follies,” said Chairman Adam Hill.
Forty percent of the county’s money comes from the state and federal governments, and when those two are in turmoil, the county feels it.
Dan Buckshi, a budget analyst in the county administrator’s office, rolled out the proposed 2011-2012 fiscal year budget, which takes effect July 1 and stretches to June 30, 2012.
The proposal is $449.6 million, down slightly from this year’s, which is $450.5 million. Supervisors scheduled public hearings for June 13, 14 and 15.
However, they spent most of their morning Tuesday discussing not only what has happened to the county financially, but also what could happen, depending on the state government.
Buckshi presented different scenarios, none of them pleasant.
One of the key worries is the vehicle license fee and sales and income taxes that expire June 30. If the state does not extend those, the ensuing drop in revenues will hinder the county’s ability to maintain public safety, supervisors said.
Buckshi pegged the loss to the county at $2.9 million in the Sheriff’s and Probation departments and the District Attorney’s Office.
The sheriff would lose seven officers, would have to cut back on investigating and dismantling meth labs, and would have to do less checking on sex offenders, Buckshi wrote in a report to supervisors.
The Probation Department would lose 14.5 positions and would be forced to cut back on its Narcotics Task Force and Juvenile Drug Courts, among other programs. In the District Attorney’s Office, programs to fight sexual assault and elder abuse could be targeted.
Buckshi also projected what would happen if the state shifts responsibilities for programs to the county without also sending along the money to make them happen.
One example: 140 inmates could go from state prison to county jail. To handle this, the county would need to hire 40 corrections workers. The cost of the program would be $4.8 million.
The list of possible dire consequences is long, and stretches over several departments.
Supervisors, already on record as wanting to put the tax reductions to a public vote, reiterated that stance Tuesday.
Republicans in Sacramento have maintained party rigor in opposing a public vote. Gov. Jerry Brown needs two votes in either chamber to get the tax measures on the ballot.
State Sen. Sam Blakeslee and Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian are both Republicans from San Luis Obispo who style themselves as moderates. Some political observers believe they are among a handful that would be willing to let the voters have a say.
Both men said earlier this week that they were scrutinizing Brown’s new proposal.
Achadjian has signed a Republican Party “no-tax” pledge.
Supervisors call their budget, which looks at income and expenses over time, “the 7-year pain plan.” This is its fourth year.