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Decreasing revenues mean cuts to budget

Supes looking at spending plan for new fiscal year
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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By Gus Thomson Journal Staff Writer Placer County’s flush growth years highlighted by automatic budget increases have hit a roadblock. One of the leaders in population and construction growth in the state, the county is now looking at an 11.1 percent decrease in spending in a budget year starting in July. County CEO Tom Miller said that the drop could go further as state legislators and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger move toward their own budget agreement. That would mean another $8 million decrease in the general fund, he said. The Board of Supervisors will be considering a new budget proposal for the coming 2009-10 fiscal year at their Tuesday meeting. The spending plan calls for a drop in dollars over this year from $865 million to $769 million. The decrease would be even lower than the $792 million county budget of two years ago. The report Miller’s office will present Tuesday, points out that actions since late 2007 have been designed to slow and reduce expenditures, including freezing most hirings and looking for savings in areas like vehicle fleet utilization. But the report says the county should anticipate deeper cuts to match decreasing revenues. “While some of the early budget reductions have been one-time in nature, as the county moves forward through the next couple of fiscal years, it is anticipated that budget reductions of a more structural, ongoing nature will be recommended.” A drop in county property tax of two percent and 16 percent in sales tax are two key reason general fund revenues are down $13.9 million to $339.9 million. The county’s general fund provides revenues it has discretion over. Transient occupancy hotel room taxes are off $579,000 to $4.9 million and interest earnings are down $3 million from $5 million. “We believe we have another two grim years ahead of us,” Miller said. “But we’re still trying to minimize service impacts.” City Manager Bob Richardson of Auburn said Tuesday’s vote result on statewide proposition has the city facing a drop in revenues from the state of between $315,000 and $350,000. The city’s budget is around $10.3 million. Talks among employee groups over time off in exchange for salary reductions have been one way the city is attempting to avoid layoffs. Talks with firefighters and police are ongoing while Local 39 has rejected the plan, Richardson said. The city has 102 employees. The Journal’s Gus Thomson can be reached at gust@goldcountrymedia.com. ---------- Board of Supervisors meeting When: 9 a.m. Tuesday Where: County Administrative Center, 175 Fulweiler Ave., Auburn