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County budget calls for salary cuts, reserve spending

POSTED August 31, 2012 10:21 p.m.

Stanislaus County released its final budget for the 2012-2013 fiscal year on Friday, reflecting the true impacts of public safety realignment, still-down property taxes, and the rising need for social services.

“The organization continues to move forward through this adversity with a determination and drive that is unparalleled to ensure that core services continue to be provided to county residents and communities in creative new ways that are strategic and measured,” stated county CEO Monica Nino.  

The proposed final budget calls for $984 million in spending, up $93 million or 10.4 percent from the 2011-2012 budget. Much of that increase comes due to a new Kiernan Avenue/State Route 99 interchange and the widening of Claribel Road, budgeted at $49 million and funded by the state.

The rest of the increase comes from $13.9 million in carryover of department savings from the prior fiscal year; $13.3 million of additional funding related to Public Safety Realignment; $14.1 million for operational growth needs; and $2.7 million for critical facility needs like re-roof projects and heating and ventilation equipment repair.

The proposed final budget uses $9.2 million in reserves and $8.5 million in unassigned fund balance, up $3.1 million from the adopted proposed budget, to make ends meet. The budget also relies upon the continuation of a 5 percent salary deduction, agreed to by all labor unions, as well as a new, additional 1 percent salary deduction. Employees have also begun to share in healthcare costs – an effective 2 percent salary deduction in January, 2012 – and employee pension was reformed in 2010-2011.

Discretionary revenue, the unrestricted funds comprised primarily of property tax and sales tax revenues, are budgeted at $147 million – up $7.1 million from a year ago. But discretionary funding is still far below the 2007-2008 high of $180 million, due in large part to the housing crisis and declining home values.

The total number of county employees is projected at 3,793, up from 3,607 a year ago. The 186 position increase comes primarily as Stanislaus County takes on public safety functions previously handled by the State of California through realignment, and as the county hires more staff to assist an increasing number of county residents who require public assistance and social service benefits. The new positions are primarily funded by State and Federal dollars.

Even as Stanislaus County faces growing need and flat or declining funding, county staff remains focused on serving residents and planning for the future, Nino said.

“We will remain strong as an organization and community. As we continue to see signs of an improving economy and the results of our strategic planning, it will be important that the organization continues to remind ourselves of the recent past to shape and define our future,” Nino said.

Stanislaus County Supervisors will consider adopting the final budget during a public hearing, scheduled for 9:05 a.m. Sept. 11 in the Board Chambers of 1010 Tenth St., Modesto.

The proposed final budget is available for public review at the Board of Supervisors Office, 1010 10th Street, Suite 6500, Modesto, on the county’s web site at www.stancounty.com/budget, or at any Stanislaus County Library.

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