Stanislaus County has released its recommended budget proposal and while it anticipates a lack of road funding, a robust addition of jobs is included.
Forty new positions are slated to be added to the county's team of over 4,000 employees, 20 of which may be added to the Behavioral Health and Recovery Services. Thirteen may also be added to the Community Services Agency, one to Environmental Resources, and two to the Agency on Aging, Health Services Agency, and Chief Executive Office, respectively.
The county's investment in employment, especially in the Behavioral Health and Recovery Services, can be seen as a commitment to its ongoing evaluation of services. In a letter to the Board of Supervisors, Chief Executive Officer Stan Risen stated that the county's Focus on Prevention initiative, a long-range strategy to address difficult social conditions impacting Stanislaus County, has been a guiding theme for the area.
"The initiative has four main areas of focus: preventing homelessness; strengthening the family; investing in and supporting children and youth; and reducing the number of repeat criminal offenders," stated Risen in the letter, noting that a community forum on homelessness will take place in October.
The interim spending plan totals $1.08 billion, which reflects a decrease of roughly one percent for all funds when compared to the previous year. General fund totals are also down approximately $6.4 million from the 2014-2015 final budget.
The county is proposing that $2 million be added annually to the baseline public safety funding to restore services that were cut during the recession. Preventing juvenile crime is also a priority as the county plans to partner with the Police Activities League, a formerly defunded program, in Keyes and Grayson. Steps are also being taken to properly maintain parks and the county intends to restore jobs, reopen restrooms, and market the parks during the 2015-2016 year.
Roads have been a hot topic in Stanislaus County and its communities for the last several years and that trend will continue as the county faces losing $3.1 million in Highway Users Tax Account funding. Due to this loss, the county will not be performing a chip seal program in 2015-2016. This program, which preserves the life of roads and safety of drivers, resurfaced 100 miles of road in 2014-2015. Risen called the lack of HUTA funding "a huge impact on our county."
While Stanislaus County continues to chart its course out of the recession, Risen explained that the county is aiming to not just replenish services, but find long-term solutions.
"We are encouraged by the improvement in our local economy but continue to maintain a fiscally conservative approach with a focus in rebuilding critical core services in a sustainable matter," said Risen in a release issued May 29.