COUNTY ADMINISTRATOR CALLS PLAN A ‘RESPONSIBLE BUDGET WITHOUT GIMMICKS’; HAGGERTY SAYS STATE SHOULD LEARN FROM COUNTY
By Steven Tavares
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The Alameda County Board of Supervisors ended a gargantuan task Friday afternoon by unanimously approving a $2.5 billion fiscal budget for 2012.
The excruciating budget amounted to over $137 million in cuts to services and staff amounting to 111 job losses.
It is the third straight year the county has endured triple-digit shortfalls during a period of stagnant growth and higher demands for county’s collection of social services.
“This is a prudent and responsible budget without gimmicks,” declared Alameda County Administrator Susan Muranishi. Over the past three budgets, the county has slashed 500 jobs and attempted to fill-in over a half-billion dollars worth of cuts, she said.
Muranishi said during Friday’s special meeting she was reticent of the amount of one-time solutions to the budget based on revenues carried over from previous years, but it was also “savings already in the bank,” she said.
Because of the struggling economy, the 2012 budget might be viewed as the county merely stemming the tide of growing demand for services with fewer revenue streams. “Maintaining services actually means going backwards as people get poorer,” said Supervisor Wilma Chan. “It’s not good enough.” She also lamented the county is spending less on prevention of all kinds, including ebbing the flow of high unemployment in the county.
Despite the rounds of obligatory congratulations during today’s meeting, many supervisors still believe the county could still be hit further by power grabs for funding by the state and federal government. Supervisor Scott Haggerty even stressed lawmakers in Sacramento and Washington could learn a trick or two from Alameda County.
During a separate special budget meeting Wednesday, Supervisor Keith Carson, who chaired the county budget committee warned against another round of takebacks. “The federal government is about to turn the heat up. The state, in a couple of days, is also about turn the hot water really up,” Carson said in reference to the state’s botched attempt at passing a balanced budget last week and Washington’s annual trillion dollar deficits.
“Unless we can start printing our own money, we don’t have it,” Haggerty added during the same Wednesday hearing.
Because of the budget uncertainties at the upper levels of government, the nearly two month job of formulating a balanced budget might ultimately be for naught as future revisions are needed. The fiscal budget is merely a projection, one that with even the most cautious approach, tends to be over the mark whether it is at the county-level or further downstream at city hall’s across the Bay Area.
NOTE: A clarification was added to this article after publishing regarding the number of employee job losses.