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County leaders pass budget with at least 725 layoffs

At least 725 county employees will be laid off as a result of the county budget approved by the Board of Supervisors Thursday in a 3-2 vote. 

The board has now balanced its the county’s budget, which had a $181 million gap. The total budget for the 2010/2011 fiscal year is $3.5 billion. Of that amount, $1.9 billion makes up the county’s general fund.

Supervisors held lengthy meetings on the budget over the course of four days this week.

Supervisors Roberta MacGlashan and Roger Dickinson voted against the budget’s general fund allocations, offering different reasons for why they disagreed with the budget. Supervisors Don Nottoli, Susan Peters and Jimmie Yee voted in support of passing the budget, which led to its approval just after 3 p.m.

MacGlashan said she could not vote in favor of the budget because it did not put enough money toward public safety.

“This budget tells the residents of the unincorporated area they’re on their own,” she said.

Dickinson objected to the budget because he said he thought it did not make social services a higher priority. While public safety is the board’s top priority, he said, it’s not the board’s only priority.

“We have an obligation, a duty, particularly as a county, to address those who are the least among us,” he said.

Supervisor Don Nottoli said he felt he had a responsibility to pass a budget for the county, even though the budget includes compromises.

“The bottom line is that there’s not sufficient funding,” Nottoli said. “Yes, we prioritize and we make decisions.”

Major cuts to public safety and social services programs and departments are included in the budget.

Before the board passed its budget, it lessened the damage to some departments. Sacramento County Sheriff John McGinness said earlier this week that the department faced a $37.6 million budget gap.

Because the board moved additional dollars to McGinness’s department Thursday, the sheriff’s deficit was lowered to $19.8 million.

McGinness declined to estimate how many layoffs his department would need to make to balance out his budget.

“Everything’s on the table at this point,” McGinness said after the hearing. “We need to find a way to live within our new budgetary constraint, which just got constricted by another $20 million dollars.”

The layoff figures are not final at this point, according to Nav Gill, the county’s chief operations officer. However, there could be more than 725, he said.

The county refers to the budget that was passed Thursday as the “recommended budget.” That’s because it will look at its figures again in September, after hearing how the state’s budget will affect the county.

Ann Edwards-Buckley, director of the county’s Health and Human Services Department, said her department was cut in several areas, including public health services, public health nursing, Child Protective Services and in-home support.

“We’ll have significant reductions in health care services for the poor,” she said.

The public can watch Monday’s meeting here. View Tuesday’s hearings here. Watch the video of Wednesday’s meeting here.

Photo of Supervisors Roberta MacGlashan and Don Nottoli by Anthony Bento.

Kathleen Haley is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press.


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