Thursday, April 19, 2012

Alameda County's $88 Million Funding Gap Is Lowest In Four Years

April 19, 2012 | Alameda County officials are preparing for another round of excruciating cuts to programs and services after the announcement Wednesday its $2.5 billion budget has a funding gap of $88.1 million for the next fiscal year--the lowest in four years.

Although the hefty figure and the cuts potentially necessitated by the shortfall spell increased difficulties for the county's youth, underprivileged and seniors, the gap represents a significant uptick in the county's overall economic health. Last year's budget was balanced with over $137 million in cuts, followed by over $152 million the year before. In fact, the county's perennial budget woes over the past decade have not been this low since the 2008-09 budget posted a $73 million funding gap.

Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson said Wednesday, the $88 million deficit is not set in stone and other uncertainties in the next few months could inflate the number and pain incurred on the county. Carson said in a statement that the county is uncertain how the state plans to reimburse it for public safety realignment, in addition, the fate of Gov. Jerry Brown's tax increase initiative will have a negative effect on the county if not passed by voter this November.

"Our first order of business will be to close what is a very substantial shortfall," said Carson. "This will require some very difficult decisions that no doubt will further hamper our ability to deliver services that are very important to people in our community. And we must do so knowing that another round of bad news may be heading our way."

Alameda County Administrator Susan Muranishi delivered the bad economic news Wednesday during a budget work group chaired by Carson. In a similar refrain from previously grim budget announcements over the past few years, Muranishi blamed the current shortfall on the chronically stagnant local and national economy and rising health and pension benefits.

“After a prolonged recession that ate significantly into our resources," said Muranishi, "Alameda County continues to be squeezed by rapidly rising employee health and retirement costs, continued high demand for services and a lackluster economy that undermines our chances for significant revenue growth."

It is not clear which county departments and programs will be hit hardest by another round of sharp cuts, but the Board of Supervisors plan to hold a series of hearings from now to the end of June to identify and finalize next year's budget before the July 1 deadline.

(in millions)
FY 2002-03..............(- 73.9)
FY 2003-04..............(-155.9)
FY 2004-05..............(-116.1)
FY 2005-06..............(- 92.0)
FY 2006-07..............(- 72.2)
FY 2007-08..............(- 52.0)
FY 2008-09..............(- 73.6)
FY 2009-10..............(-177.6)
FY 2010-11..............(-152.4)
FY 2011-12..............(-137.9)
FY 2012-13..............(- 88.1)
Source: Alameda County.


By MW:

I was going to suggest laying off Nadia Lockyer as one method of reducing expenses and reducing the deficit, but then I thought about it more and realized that in this time of great crisis we still more than ever urgently need her sober wisdom, fantastic judgement, intelligence, consistency, and level headedness.

Can Nadia phone in from Santa Clara County jail if she's visitng her bf there again?

What kind of role model Nadia is to her son? And all the parents who demonstrate irresponsible behavior. No wonder America is going south. I wish if we can start liking the normal people instead of pretty picture papers. June 5 th is approaching fast. Can we kick the career politicians out. Unfortunately voters lack the confidence.

I don't know if America is going South, but Alameda County is going east. If progressives in this county don't clean up their act, the East Bay is going to wake up soon with moderate Democrats calling the shots. Think Ellen Tauscher voting for you in Sacramento or Washington.

I'm ok with moderate democrats, but I know one thing....the democratic party in alameda county needs to grow a pair and start doing something about some of these elected officials who are an embarrassment. There are plenty of good progressive and moderate democrats in the east bay that would do a good job for us in D.C., Sacramento, and County so why the party stands behind some of these elected officials is beyond me.

Perhaps the Central Committee needs new leadership that isn't tied into the old Dems club of Lockyer.

Despite my comments, I'm happy to live in a County that doesn't take the easy route like other counties and slash staff and services when times get a tough. I know this may be hard to believe, but the County is actually pretty fiscally conservative from what I can tell. I also don't think they've had to touch their reserves through the tough times.

There Dem party needs to look at itself in the mirror indeed. Where was the leadership in calling for Nadia to step down? Had Nadia had an R (as in republican) attached to her, you can bet the dems would have been calling for resignation when this all first came out. But since it was a Lockyer, there silence spoke volumes. Then again, the Dems were bought and paid for whe she ran for office.

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