County Considers Budget Cuts
January 25, 2011
In a special budget committee meeting on Monday, the principal administrative analyst for Monterey County presented on Governor Jerry Brown's proposed $12.5 billion in cuts and their impact on the county. "On the whole, the budget relies heavily on solutions that impact counties and the residents they serve," according the budget committee preliminary report.
In the budget meeting, County Supervisor Lou Calcagno, who serves on the budget committee, said, "If [the governor] can't run the programs and pay for them, then how can he expect the counties to pay for them? Then all the counties will go bankrupt, and the state will look good...Something's got to give. We've either got to be a whole lot more efficient, or we'll have to cut."
Brown's proposal shifts $5.9 billion in program responsibilities from the state to counties in the coming fiscal year, known as "realignment funding."
Among the programs proposed for realignment is local public safety, including funding for CalEMA, probation, and the Juvenile Justice Crime Prevention Act, which amounts to about $4 million in the county.
For Monterey County, Brown's proposed realignments would mean an $8 million hit for mental health services and $1 million in state funding to the Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs that administers prevention and recovery services.
Gov. Brown proposed a special election in June to ask voters for a five-year extension on current tax increases on sales tax, vehicle license fees, and personal income tax. If voters reject the increased tax measures, Brown has said, "Look at the amount of proposed cuts and multiply by two." In 2009, voters rejected a similar measure. County budget analysts predict the election will cost $800,000 for the county, with no indication from the state that it will offer reimbursement.
Calcagno concluded by saying, "It's probably all doom and gloom, but opportunity comes from doom and gloom. We'll all survive, but it's going to be a drastic change in our culture of doing business."