CALIFORNIA BUDGET: Local agencies mostly spared ax, but remain wary of next year’s finances | SierraSun.com

CALIFORNIA BUDGET: Local agencies mostly spared ax, but remain wary of next year’s finances

Jenny Goldsmith
Sierra Sun

Seth Lightcap/Sierra Sun

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the state budget Tuesday with a combination of cuts to address the $15.2 billion shortfall, but the budget ax doesn’t look like it will impact local agencies.

However, over the weekend the Governor made an additional $510 million in veto cuts to reduce spending to the maximum extent possible, but the effect on local county programs has yet to be determined, according to a report from the Governor’s office.

“We’re waiting to see what the Governor vetoes before we offer predictions on what impact it will have on county programs,” said Jeff Bell, Placer County budget administrator.

The Placer County budget adopted by the county supervisors on Sept. 9 made some assumptions about the state budget and will allow the county to continue providing services, but Bell said the outlook for next year is grim in terms of funding cuts.

“They didn’t resolve the structural problems this year,” Bell said. “We’re looking at pretty challenging fiscal times ahead at the state level.”

Likewise, most programs in both eastern and western Nevada County will remain unscathed with the exception of a mental health grant for mentally-ill criminal offenders which will not be refunded this year, said Joe Christoffel, deputy county executive officer.

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“We expect many aspects of the program to continue on with Medi-Cal funding streams and don’t believe there will be large cutbacks in that area,” Christoffel said. “Cuts at the state level were not dramatically different from those that were identified in our budget.”

The Town of Truckee will not be asked to loan the state any money from local property taxes under Proposition 1A provisions, but the town will take a hit in redevelopment agency funds from a one-time takeaway of $130,000, said Kim Szczurek, administrative services director for the Town of Truckee.

“It will lessen our ability to do projects in the redevelopment area … but it’s not a severe impact,” Szczurek said.

Projects currently underway like the sidewalk plans for Brickelltown and resurfacing on West River Street will not be affected by the cut, but the town is bracing for a reduction in future projects, Szczurek said.

Transit funding will also be reduced, but the town does not anticipate a significant impact on services this year. However, next year’s projected state budget deficit has town officials concerned, Szczurek said.

“As the dust settles, we’ll see what the impact is,” Szczurek said.

While 48 parks across California were slated to close with the governor’s proposed cuts in January, officials from the California State Parks breathed a collective sigh of relief when the governor decided to restore their funds.

“We don’t foresee that any parks anywhere in the state will close,” said Roy Stearns, deputy director of communications for California State Parks. “We’re very grateful that the Governor decided no parks should close.”

Approximately $15 million was expected to be slashed from state parks funds, but the Governor restored $13.5 million in May and directed the agency to raise the remaining funds through fee increases at selected parks, Stearns said.

As for next year, Stearns said he is confident in Gov. Schwarzenegger’s proposed budget reforms, such as the “rainy day” fund and the mid-year reduction authority.

“This Governor is pushing in the right direction on what has to happen, which is budget reform,” Stearns said. “We need more budget reform if we really want to break this pattern up.”