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Proposed county budget includes 5.2% increase in General Fund
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Stanislaus County Chief Executive Officer Stan Risen submitted the final budget proposal of his 30 years in public service on Friday, using the opportunity to thank “all of the dedicated leaders and employees of this organization who regularly display that commitment to our vision of being ‘a county that is respected for its service in the community and is known as the best in America.’”

Risen will be retiring in August; but before that day comes he will work with the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors one last time on the County’s budget.

The Board of Supervisors will consider a 2017-2018 Proposed Budget of almost $1.2 billion that includes spending for public safety services, technology innovation and countywide road improvements.

The Recommended Proposed Budget totals $1,182,385,239 and reflects an increase of approximately 4.3 percent or $49,161,569 for all funds as compared to the 2016-2017 Adopted Final Budget of $1,133,223,670. The General Fund totals $313,662,951, which has increased approximately 5.2 percent or $15,427,536 from the 2016-2017 Adopted Final Budget of $298,235,415.

The County will use fund balance and retained earnings in several areas to balance the Proposed Budget. A total of $58 million in balancing funds are proposed, of which 80 percent or $46.6 million relates to planned spending in Enterprise Funds for Public Works Road and Bridge projects, Environmental Resources for Fink Road Landfill and Special Revenue Funds for designated programs and projects, according to the proposed budget.

Budget staffing recommendations include an overall increase of 30 positions to 4,429. Of this, a total of 21 new positions are recommended in support of the phased Public Safety Facility Expansion projects. Seven of the positions are for the Department of Environmental Resources and dedicated to projects with external funding sources to benefit the public. Two positions are recommended for SBT to support the County organization technology platform; this department is currently under-resourced and this staffing augmentation will bring the total department staffing level to just 30, down from the recent peak of 62. The remainder of the staffing recommendations include: restore one previously unfunded position for the Library, unfund two vacant positions for the Sheriff and add one Victim Advocate for the District Attorney, funded with grant revenue.

Phase III of the Public Safety Restoration plan was set to be implemented in 2017-18, with an additional $2 million in funding, bringing the total ongoing support dedicated to public safety departments to $8 million at full implementation. Upon approval of the 2016-2017 Adopted Final Budget, the Board dedicated $1 million to accelerate the implementation of PSR Phase III to begin on Jan. 1, 2017. This advanced funding for Phase III of PSR completed the Board’s full commitment to funding PSR staffing through Budget Year 2017-2018 and as a result, the County added back 84 authorized full-time public safety staff positions to provide vital services for the public.

Enterprise-wide automation projects will be the focus in Budget Year 2017-2018, including Office 360, Single Sign-on and Agenda Management system. Of note, Strategic Business Technology working in partnership with the County Information Technology Steering Committee has also developed the IT Strategic Plan to guide the organization in technology enhancements through 2020.

New State and federal funding of approximately $19.8 million will support 11 road and bridge projects throughout the County during Budget Year 2017-2018. Self-help State sales tax revenue of approximately $6.4 million from the passing of Measure L is also included in the Recommended Proposed Budget, and is designated for countywide local street and road improvements.

While the County’s retirement plan is currently one of the healthiest funded plans in the state, it is expected that retirement costs will continue to be a significant cost driver as the increase to Budget Year 2017-2018 totaled 25.7 percent for the General Fund and annual increases and future changes are expected to increase the employer contribution rate by an average of 11 percent in the succeeding four years, according to County staff.

The County is also expecting to have to shoulder more of the costs of the In-Home Supportive Services program. On Jan. 10, the Director of the Department of Finance issued notice that the State of California will end the Coordinated Care Initiative and dismantle the IHSS Maintenance of Effort enacted in 2012. This will shift millions of dollars of new program costs to counties, approximately $625 million above the current MOE requirements statewide per the January Budget. For Stanislaus County, the local impact in Budget Year 2017-2018 is estimated at approximately $6 million. At May Revise, the shift of program costs to counties is estimated at $592 million with a complex series of State General Fund offsets, and dedication of 1991 Realignment Growth funds to mitigate the local exposure. However, the figure will grow exponentially in the next five years due to State program changes related to implementation of Fair Labor Standards Act requirements for providers including paid overtime, travel time, wait time, paid sick days, annual escalators and State minimum wage increases. Staff will continue to monitor the State budget negotiations on this issue, and any local impacts will be factored at Final Budget.

This could be the final fiscal year budget for the County, as the Board will consider adopting a two-year model for budget years 2018-19 and 2019-2020.

A Public Hearing before the Board of Supervisors to consider the adoption of the 2017-2018 Recommended Proposed Budget has been scheduled for 9:05 a.m. June 13. The meeting will take place in the basement Board Chambers located at 1010 10th St., in Modesto. The County budget is available to the public at or at any of the 13 libraries located throughout Stanislaus County.