Service cuts, more tough times ahead for Nevada County
Sun News Service
NEVADA COUNTY, Calif. and#8212; Cuts to services for Nevada Countyand#8217;s poorest residents are possible in the future as officials continue to reduce spending.
Welfare-to-work programs, child care subsidies, in-home care services and MediCal all could see decreases and#8212; or be eliminated altogether and#8212; as Nevada County shoulders its share of statewide budget cuts aimed at arresting Californiaand#8217;s $19.1 billion deficit.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has suggested and#8220;deep spending cutsand#8221; in social services, County Assistant CEO Joe Christoffel said.
Knowing state legislators could raid county coffers to resolve their recurring budget drama, and forecasting flat sales and property tax revenues for 2011-12, Nevada County supervisors started working Wednesday on an austere but balanced $182.7 million budget.
They expect to have the budget approved by July 1, the start of the 2010-11 fiscal year.
and#8220;There was a great recognition of realityand#8221; in drafting the budget, according to Board Chairman Nate Beason.
That reality includes projected declines in property and sales tax revenues that are expected to produce a budget $2.7 million leaner than the 2009-10 spending plan.
That $2.7 million gap already has been closed by staffing cuts and reductions in department financial requests, Cristoffel said.
The county has 836 full-time employees projected for the coming fiscal year, compared to 913 at this time one year ago, Christoffel said. Officials have cut 20 percent of full-time employees in the last 10 years; the county had the equivalent of 1,054 full-time jobs in 2001-2002.
Those cuts have come largely through leaving vacant positions unfilled and shifting the work to remaining employees, said County Executive Officer Rick Haffey.
Officials have balanced the county budgets in recent years because supervisors have insisted on and#8220;prudent budget policiesand#8221; and building financial reserves, Haffey said. In addition, about 100 employees, including managers, have refused raises over the past two years, he added.
Contracting management services at the county animal shelter and the Doris Foley Historical Library to nonprofits also keeps costs down, Haffey added.
The good news is, and#8220;we are at the bottom of the great recession,and#8221; but it will take time for Nevada County to see economic improvement, Haffey said. Government lags an addition 18 to 24 months behind an economic recovery, leading to continued tough times in 2011-12.
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