Employee concessions, hiring freeze help Placer balance temporary budget

Kyle Magin
Sierra Sun

PLACER COUNTY and#8212; On Tuesday, May 26 the Placer County Board of Supervisors approved a proposed budget for fiscal year 2009-10 of $769 million, a drop of $96 million from the 2008-09 budget.

The balanced budget approved by the supervisors erases an earlier projected deficit of $18.6 million through cost savings and use of reserves.

Despite reductions and expenditure constraints caused by the recession and the state budget crisis, the proposed county budget continues investment in infrastructure projects such as road improvements and county library upgrades.

The countyand#8217;s balanced budget approved last month is an interim spending plan that will take effect July 1 and remain in effect until the Board of Supervisors adopts its final budget no later than Oct. 2.

However the full impact of the state budget crisis on the county budget remains unknown.

Changes associated with the Governorand#8217;s May revision of the stateand#8217;s proposed budget are anticipated to cause at least an additional $11 million in further Placer County budget reductions.

Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery, who represents North Tahoe on the board, said all areas of the county will be affected equally by the reductions. She said that through a hiring freeze the county will only fill positions critical to health and safety.

and#8220;Weand#8217;ve tried to prioritize what we do as a county, and thatand#8217;s provide services to people,and#8221; Montgomery said. and#8220;Weand#8217;ve looked at what services cannot take more cuts and what critical positions we must have.and#8221;

Montgomery also said the hiring freeze is crucial because unfilled positions allow the county to employ their current staff without any layoffs.

The deficit of $18.6 million which was anticipated in February was matched by cost savings and minimal use of reserves. Approximately $6.7 million in savings was generated as Placer Public Employee Organization members, confidential staff and management team members agreed to take 12 days of Mandatory Time Off in order to prevent layoffs in these groups. Other cost savings measures included $9.2 million in short term and ongoing reductions, and $4 million in reserves, partially offset by $1.3 million in revenue reductions.

The Placer County 2009-10 fiscal year proposed budget incorporates declining revenue projections in property taxes, sales taxes, interest, property transfer taxes, construction permits and public safety sales taxes.

Staff will continue to monitor the state budget process for potential impacts to the County. A workshop on the revisions to the state budget and other state actions has been tentatively scheduled for the June 23 meeting, and a public hearing is scheduled for August 25.

Currently the county has 164 fewer filled positions in 2008-09 than in 2007-08. An estimated 62 fewer filled positions are anticipated in 2009-10.

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