San Luis Obispo County supervisors quietly approved a tentative budget for fiscal year 2012-13 of $469.4 million, a 1 percent increase over this year’s spending plan.
Despite the higher number, the budget approved Monday, which would take effect July 1, actually represents a shrinkage of sorts, because it would have taken $471.4 million for the county to do everything it did last year at last year’s level.
Three positions were eliminated; all were vacant. Over the past five years, 245 jobs have been eliminated — 9 percent of the county government’s workforce.
All were cut through attrition; nobody lost their jobs, and Board of Supervisors Chairman Jim Patterson once again applauded the county’s public employee unions for working cooperatively with the administration.
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The final vote on the overall budget will come Tuesday. Supervisors will meet at 9 a.m. today to discuss contributions to outside agencies.
Monday’s vote was uncontroversial, with only two members of the public commenting, and almost anti-climatic. During the year, the county continually works on the budget, and supervisors hear quarterly reports from County Administrative Officer Jim Grant and Assistant County Administrator Dan Buckshi, after which they make adjustments.
The county is still waiting for a large shoe to drop, the state budget, which affects the county budget in many ways.
“We are anticipating the need to revisit our budget later this year if significant changes need to be made as a result of the state budget,” Patterson said.
“At this point, the biggest threat to the county budget is the state,” Buckshi wrote in an email to The Tribune. “We are working closely with other counties, our state lobbyists, and our local legislators in an attempt to minimize the negative impacts to local residents and businesses.”Buckshi said compared to prior years, “service level impacts are considerably less.”
“In fact,” he wrote, “this is the first year in quite some time that we are able to augment some services. In essence, we are doing more with less.”He cited some examples:
General fund allocation for roads is increasing by $100,000 — to $5.9 million from $5.8 million.
Staffing at the Creston County/Cal Fire station will be increased from three days a week to full time. And Station 12, on Highway 1 near Cal Poly, will continue to be staffed year-round.
Increased sheriff, fire and code enforcement services to support construction of solar farms in the Carrizo Plain will continue.
Additional funding will go to the Office of Emergency Services to support improved evacuation planning for those with special needs.
There will be increased staffing for the Children’s Assessment Center (Martha’s Place), with many of the resources reduced in prior years coming back. The program assesses children who might have been exposed to drugs or alcohol during pregnancy and provides therapy and treatment.
Two positions that were added to the Department of Social Services during the current year in support of services for the homeless will continue into the new year.
Libraries will maintain current hours and services.
Parks will maintain services, and funding was allocated for a new parks reservations software system, “which should improve customer service (and potentially revenue).”