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Proposed county budget includes over $30 million for road repairs
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For years, Stanislaus County Chief Executive Officer Stan Risen has followed the tradition of presenting an inspirational quote along with the final budget proposal to the Board of Supervisors. On Tuesday, he did so for the last time.

“If not us, who? If not now, when?” Risen said to the Board, calling on the County’s representatives to make systemic changes in order to make the Stanislaus community its best.

The Board, excluding Chairman Vito Chiesa who was not in attendance, voted to accept the 2017-2018 Proposed Budget of almost $1.2 billion that includes spending for public safety services, technology innovation and countywide road improvements.

“At the end of the day, this budget is not about just numbers,” said Risen. “It’s a resource or toll in making Stanislaus County a better place to live or to work or to play and it’s about making our community better.”

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.

Not only does the budget maintain current service levels, according to Assistant Executive Officer Jody Hayes, but it also adds $30.3 million for road projects throughout the county as well as funds Adult Detention, Expansion and Jail Medical Services.

Hayes described the additional infrastructure funds as the most significant change from last year’s budget.

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.

“This is very good news for the community. You’ll see projects throughout the entire county on this list,” said Hayes. “I know our roads team is very eager to get out there after years of not being able to do the work that they want to do in our community, and to go from just patching potholes to fixing real roads.”

Also included in the budget is funding for multiple public safety programs.

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.

Funding for the County’s Jail Medical Program and Adult Detention Expansion is also provided in the budget, totaling $14.5 million.

“These new facilities allow the sheriffs team to redesign how local detention programs operate in this changing environment within the state of California, with particular emphasis on deploying new programs and services for those individuals who are seeking change in their future,” said Hayes.

Supervisor Terry Withrow applauded the County’s commitment to providing programs for inmates which encourage self-betterment.

“Not only did we build these jails and this additional space, but we started things to hopefully one day empty those jails out,” he said.

Twenty-one new positions are recommended in support of the phased Public Safety Facility Expansion projects – a group of 30 overall recommended positions to be added, as proposed by the budget.

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.

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.

Based on the Recommended Proposed Budget and deferred department requests, the Recommended Final budget will be prepared and presented to the Board on Sept. 19 at 6:35 p.m.