Stanislaus County officials are preparing for a difficult 2008-09 budget in light of the state's budget problems and declining property and sales tax revenues.
County budget planners are looking at a projected $10 million shortfall in the general fund, which pays for core services such as public safety, parks and recreation, planning and community development, justice administration, and tax assessment and collection. The general fund budget for this fiscal year is $278.9 million.
County officials are considering several strategies to balance the budget, including a 3 percent across the board reduction for general fund programs; reducing or eliminating the money set aside for expanding the Public Safety Center; and a one-year moratorium on funding the county's Economic Development Bank.
The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday will consider scheduling a June 10 hearing on the upcoming budget. The 2008-09 budget year starts July 1.
The expected budget deficit is a result of the state's budget woes and the struggling local economy. The governor's proposed budget calls for a 10 percent across the board reduction to most state programs to cope with a $15 billion to $20 billion budget deficit. The state funding cuts are expected to affect many Stanislaus County programs.
The real estate downturn is affecting the county's property tax revenue. Reduced consumer spending is affecting sales tax revenue.
County budget planners hope to save at least $5.9 million in the general fund with reductions to programs in the current fiscal year, according to a staff report. Departments have been given a target for reductions for the rest of the year, which ends June 30.
According to the staff report, the areas that budget planners are examining include the capital improvement program, which would fund projects such as a proposed jail expansion and a new animal shelter; the Community Services Agency's home support; the Health Services Agency's clinics; and the inpatient and physician services costs of Behavioral Health and Recovery Services.
Some of the budget problems already are causing cuts. Stanislaus County Library officials announced Thursday that 94 part-time employees would be laid off and library hours would be cut.
The county Planning and Community Development Department announced in March the layoffs of nine workers because of the slowdown in housing. The Health Services Agency cut five jobs in March, reduced medical clinic hours, outsourced the radiology department, and changed eligibility requirements for indigents.
An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that the county had also outsourced its pharmacy department.
The Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors will meet at 9 a.m. Tuesday in the basement chambers of Tenth Street Place, 1010 10th Street, Modesto.
Bee staff writer Tim Moran can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2349.