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YOLO COUNTY NEWS
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Supervisors approve recommended budget; additional layoffs seen as unlikely

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From page A1 | June 13, 2012 |

WOODLAND — Yolo County supervisors on Tuesday approved a recommended budget for 2012-13 that features $335 million in spending and the elimination of nearly 60 vacant positions, but no layoffs for the time being.

The budget remains a work in progress, dependent on a final state budget, ongoing negotiations with county labor groups and allocation of state funds for prison realignment.

The latter will be determined by July, when the Community Corrections Partnership — the local governing body for AB 109 implementation — presents its recommendations to the board for allocating $6 million in AB 109 funding.

AB 109, which took effect last fall, calls for felons convicted of nonviolent, nonserious and nonsexual crimes to serve their time in county jails with the intent of relieving the state’s overburdened prison system. The state provides funding through vehicle license fees and sales taxes to cover the county’s realignment costs.

Yolo County Chief Probation Officer Marjorie Rist, who chairs the CCP, said the panel will finalize its recommendations at its June 22 meeting. Should the CCP choose not to allocate the funds as outlined in the budget, layoffs ranging from three to six full-time positions would hit the District Attorney’s Office, the Probation Department and the Sheriff’s Department.

However, County Administrator Patrick Blacklock said, “it’s unlikely that will happen.”

The seven voting members of the CCP panel include Rist, District Attorney Jeff Reisig, Sheriff Ed Prieto, West Sacramento Police Chief Dan Drummond, Court Executive Officer Jim Perry, Public Defender Tracie Olson and Kim Suderman, director of alcohol, drug and mental health services.

Supervisors also could overturn the panel’s recommendation by a four-fifths vote.

The possible layoffs related to AB 109 funding are the only staff reductions outlined in the 2012-13 budget, which remains $15 million less than the budget of 2008-09, when the recession started. Since then, county staff has been reduced by 30 percent.

“The number of Yolo County employees per 1,000 residents (6.4) continues to be the lowest in more than 20 years,” Blacklock noted. “The impacts of these reductions are significant with fewer staff to meet service demands.

“Reduced public hours and various department closures will likely continue in 2012-13,” he added.

Reisig told supervisors Tuesday that the elimination of vacant positions in his department will lead to the elimination of oversight investigations, officer-involved use-of-force investigations and political corruption investigations.

Of the latter, he said, “during this last election cycle my office has had multiple requests which (we) would not be able to handle under these cuts.”

Also affected would be the office’s ability to monitor people on probation for misdemeanor violations, Reisig said.

Supervisor Don Saylor of Davis, however, noted that “there are other ways of approaching budget cuts in the department.”

“I’m not convinced this is the only way the DA can find savings in their operations,” Saylor said.

In the budget, funding for law and justice takes up 23 percent of the county’s total expenditures, second only to health and human services, which comprise 42 percent of the budget.

General government and planning and public works both make up 17 percent of the budget with capital projects taking 1 percent.

The bulk of revenues — 37 percent — come from federal and state government, with 12 percent coming from local taxes and 14 percent from fees and charges.

In addition to the AB 109 funding variable, supervisors will be waiting to see how the final state budget affects the county. Blacklock noted that the governor’s May budget revision created no need for additional reductions.

As for labor contracts, negotiations continue.

County spokeswoman Beth Gabor said agreements with four employee groups have been completed, talks are in progress with three other groups and talks have yet to begin with two groups whose contracts expire in October.

One of the goals, Blacklock has said, is for employees to resume making their own CalPERS pension contributions, removing a significant financial burden from the county and eliminating the need for furloughs and layoffs.

“If labor cost savings are not maintained,” Blacklock said, “it is likely additional cuts and layoffs will be necessary at midyear.”

Gabor said the budget unknowns should be pinned down by September and the board will adopt the budget at that time. The adopted budget must be in place by Oct. 2.

View the recommended budget at http://www.yolocounty.org/Index.aspx?page=2317

— Reach Anne Ternus-Bellamy at aternus@davisenterprise.net or (530) 747-8051. Follow her on Twitter at @ATernusBellamy

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