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County cuts 17 more full-time posts, adds new fees

POSTED May 18, 2010 10:43 p.m.

The cuts kept coming at the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday.

The Board of Supervisors approved a slew of dismissals for Health Services Agency employees, necessitated by a $10 million budget deficit.

The cutbacks will see an administrative secretary, three community health workers and two public health workers lose their jobs. An additional 11 vacant positions will be deleted from the County budget, and four more posts — including an assistant director position — will be unfunded.

Also, 84 extra-help, part-time and personal service personnel — ranging from nurses to community health workers — will be dismissed. More than 100 Health Services Agency positions will be reclassified or downgraded in pay scale.

The cuts were forced by the elimination of state funding for some programs and reduced realignment funding, said Mary Ann Lee, Health Services Agency managing director.

“Really, the combination of the two has made it such that the reductions we made earlier this fiscal year aren’t enough,” Lee said.

The changes are expected to save the county approximately $2.5 million from the Public Health Division budget.

The Supervisors have already eliminated 71 full-time positions from the County budget this year, not including Tuesday’s cuts. All departments are expected to endure a 9 percent cut in this year’s budget, on top of a 5 percent salary cost reduction for all county employees, which was implemented in April.

Even after the drastic cuts — which could see more than 120 employees lose their jobs — the County expects to use $10 million in reserve funds to balance this year’s budget.

Supervisors looked to eek out any savings they could on Tuesday, approving a minimum 3 percent increase in planning services fees and clarifying when projects would trigger additional payments. Most building permit fees saw a similar roughly 3 percent rise, while new surcharges were added for projects such as solar farms and deposits were increased for move-in dwellings.

Even the cost of used books purchased from the Stanislaus County Library was doubled — albeit from 25 cents to 50 cents for paperbacks and 50 cents to a dollar for hardcovers.

The one fiscal bright point on Tuesday came when supervisors learned the county’s medical residency program — which trains new doctors to practice family medicine — would be able to continue work uninterrupted. A new consortium of local hospitals has joined together with the county to start a new, stronger residency program to train doctors — and ensure that 33 employees retain their jobs in a program eligible for federal funding.

 “You guys were thrown against the wall and there were 100 roadblocks in between and you found your way through them,” said District 2 Supervisor Vito Chiesa, whose district includes Turlock. “I’m holding onto this one good bit of information right here.”

To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail acantatore@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.

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