County Begins To Look At $21 Million in Cuts For Next Year’s Budget

recession.jpgby Eric Alfaro –

This week the Yolo Board of Supervisors gathered in a special strategic budget planning sessions to discuss inevitable cuts to the county budget while simultaneously strategizing ways to keep Yolo County performing in a self sustainable manner.

Discussed in the planning session were the logistics behind the current budget problems and the recommended department cuts that would alleviate the budget gap for the 2010-11 fiscal years and beyond.

 

Department heads agreed that painful cuts and more interdepartmental cooperation were needed to keep essential services and resources available for the public.

Yolo County now has to fill a $21 million dollar gap for next year’s fiscal budget.

What happened?

Yolo County’s economy was well sustained up until 2007 when expenses started exceeding revenues. The unchecked spending irritated Yolo County’s growing budget and undermined the payment of expenses that had begun to rely less and less on state funding. Due to the use of the county’s general fund to support the unbalanced expenses of departments, nearly all streams of alternate funding in the county have been exhausted. Although total revenues have increased 44% within the last decade, county expenses have increased a towering 77% within that same decade.

In the last decade alone, public assistance has declined while public protection has increased. Particularly, public protection (District Attorney, Sherriff, Probation, and Public Defender) went up from taking 25% to 35% of the county’s total expenses. While on the other hand, public assistance expenses were reduced from 34% to 29% of the county’s total expenses.

Growing expenses with marginal revenue streams forced Yolo County to dig into the general fund until in 2009, when all modes of funding had finally been exhausted.
Proposed Cuts

The economic downturn will most likely reach its lowest point next year. This undoubtedly means that Yolo County must restructure spending trends to balance the budget and adopt new work policies that will assure sustainability until the national economy improves.

The strategic planning session was designed to examine all possibilities and options. Law enforcement or Public protection is the most funded department in Yolo County.

Although jobs will most likely be lost in order to save money, some solutions are easier to adopt. Ditching the blackberry cell phones and downgrading to regular cell phone devices will easily save Yolo County thousands of dollars. Although pain free solutions are available to save the county money, hard sacrifices cannot be avoided.

The economic problems are forcing the county to rethink and restructure the fundamentals behind the process that provides services to residents. More interdependence between departments, more sacrifices, and more contracts negotiating/bargain-hunting will have to become common practice if the county is to stay afloat.

Public Safety Cuts

Although every department must cut funds, special consideration is given to public safety. Sherriff Ed Prieto stated that he would not allow his Sheriff Officers to patrol alone; regardless of the budget concerns, at least two officers would be needed to ensure officer safety on any police call. Prieto submitted a five scenario budget cut program to the board of supervisors. Each scenario would balance the $4,459,905 budget gap for the sheriff-coroner’s office. The proposed scenarios range from eliminating correctional officer positions to completely eliminating the Yolo County Gang Task force.

The Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig was present and explained that budget cuts could hinder on his ability to prosecute criminals in Yolo County. Reisig stated that major budget cuts could possibly force his office to eliminate up to 4,000 misdemeanor prosecutions for the 2010/2011 year. According to Reisig’s budget planning worksheet, “Crimes such as theft , vandalism, battery and other “quality of life” misdemeanor crimes will not be prosecuted anywhere in the county: Direct impact=Misdemeanor offenders will not be held accountable.”

The manner in which Sherriff Ed Prieto and District Attorney Reisig submitted their scenarios raises questions regarding the possibility of evenhanded sacrifice between departments in Yolo County. While the elimination of jobs, lowering of work hours and salary cuts are options on the table for most departments—the law enforcement departments in Yolo County have opted to portray the budget cuts as a zero sum game. Sacrifices in the Sherriff and District Attorney’s office could be dangerous to public safety, according to department heads.

Interestingly enough, while Yolo County began feeling the symptoms of economic trouble in 2007-public documents show the Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig has received six raises from 2007 to 2009. Public records show that many of the District Attorney’s top staff was received salary raises up until 2008 and 2009. Why did D.A Reisig receive a pay raise when other departments were eliminating vacancies due to the economic troubles in 2008-2009?

Questions regarding appropriate collective sacrifice come to light when certain departments portray possible cuts as dangerous to public safety. Would the simple pay reversal to 2007 levels be dangerous to public safety? With the increasing difficulty of obtaining public information in Yolo County, salary information for other positions could not be provided.

Link to Salary Information

Link to Strategic planning workshop

About The Author

Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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4 thoughts on “County Begins To Look At $21 Million in Cuts For Next Year’s Budget”

  1. SODA

    Am sorry but I find this post confusing. What kind of pay raise are we talking about? ??significance of ‘ditching Blackberrys’? Did you mean zero sum game; if not what us zero sub game?

    If true the exhausting of county revenues as the major diagnosis for current situation should be a stark signal for Davis who I believe has not had any layoffs.

  2. David M. Greenwald

    While I did not write it, it seems the author is arguing that there were pay raises given in the years leading up to the last year. The idea of “ditching Blackberrys” seems to be a notion of cost-saving measures in lieu of huge programmatic cuts, although as he makes clear they are margin at best. And the other point was a typo. Hope that clarifies.

  3. Alphonso

    Less money for the DA is a positive step for Justice in Yolo County. Now Reisig will have to run his operation more like a business – allocate the resources to areas offering the most return. A cost benefit analysis will have to be done where cases lacking substance will be tossed out. He can no longer afford to prosecute people for the sake of playing the prosecution game, which has been the case. Also this brings the Yolo DA down to a playing field more similar to other counties where they do not prosecute every case. I suppose this is bad news for the Yolo lawyers but it is good for everyone else. Over prosecution of petty transgressions can cause far worse damage than the “crime” itself.

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