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What do props' failures mean to us? Our officials answer the question

What does the failure of five propositions designed to help balance the state budget mean for people here? The Bee asked the county's chief executive, city managers and school officials. Here are their responses:


Rick Robinson, chief executive officer, Stanislaus County

The administration and the Legislature have much work to do before we will fully understand the local impacts of a $21 billion reduction in the state budget. We do expect that these cuts, combined with the major losses in locally generated discretionary revenue, will dramatically impact the delivery of local government services. The Board of Supervisors has established various program priorities, all of which will be impacted in some way by funding losses this year and for years to come. These include:

A safe community: Cuts will include the elimination of grant programs targeting drug and gang enforcement programs as well as funding to support prosecutorial efforts.

A healthy community: Anticipated reductions in health and human services will impact the county's safety net, reducing access to health-related services and programs established to protect children, the elderly and families.

Effective partnerships: Community-based programs and grant-supported local activities will suffer.

Strong ag economy/heritage: The Williamson Act provides incentives to agriculturalists to enroll property in long-term contracts, an important tool in efforts to preserve valuable land. The county's $1.5 million subvention is recommended for elimination and may place the local program at risk.

Well-planned infrastructure: Reduced transportation funding will slow efforts to maintain existing roads.

Efficient delivery of public services: Staffing reductions are ongoing, and reduced access to services across all service areas is inevitable.

Strong economy: The overall expected loss of state funding will increase the strain on an already weak local economy. Loss of county jobs will increase unemployment and reduce discretionary spending in the community.


Greg Nyhoff, city manager, Modesto

The city's Finance Committee accepted approximately $9 million in service reductions on Wednesday. The reductions included police officers, firefighters, parks maintenance workers, and numerous support staff for a total of about 100 employees. The city will close neighborhood park restrooms, reduce park watering by 25 percent, eliminate weed control in medians and street rights of way, provide minimal road maintenance and defer several improvement projects. These are just the first round of reductions in Mayor Jim Ridenour's proposed budget.

Even after these significant reductions, there is a deficit of approximately $6 million. Nearly 70 percent of our expenses are in public safety, and the next $6 million in reductions will likely further deplete our public safety staffing and service levels.

The state's take of nearly $3.5 million that typically goes to (the city) will require Modesto to diminish public safety staffing to a level of concern for our community. A $3.5 million reduction is equal to laying off 35 public safety employees. The significance of a reduction of 35 public safety employees in a single round might not be noticeable alone; however, over the past two years, budget declines previously have reduced our public safety ranks by more than 60 people.

Response times will increase, and some lower-priority calls will not receive a response at all.

The mayor will ask the Modesto City Council on Tuesday to join many other California cities in declaring a fiscal state of emergency.


Steve Hallam, city manager, Oakdale

Right now, I don't have an immediate answer. We are very concerned about two possible implications. First, will the governor take up the threat issued by his office two weeks ago that if the propositions did not pass, the state may consider seizing $2 billion in additional property tax revenue from cities? For Oakdale, this would result in a seizure of approximately $268,000 for next year.

Additionally, I am concerned that (jail) booking fees may be reinstated by the county and charged to all cities. Rough estimates could create additional general fund costs to Oakdale of $20,000 to $30,000 on an annual basis. Our council passed a resolution Monday evening opposing any additional seizures by the state as well as additional unfunded mandates.


Rich Holmer, city manager, Riverbank

If the governor decides to proceed with taking 8 percent of our property tax dollars, we will be looking at (a loss of) $268,000. Unfortunately, we have already frozen four positions and laid off one probationary employee and three part-time employees. It appears our only remaining option is layoffs unless employees took major reductions in salary and benefits.

Executive management and midmanagement have already reduced salaries and benefits by $157,000. A bargaining group has yet to agree to any reductions in salary or benefits. If they do not come to the table, we have no options but to invoke layoffs. I am predicting we would have to lay off six to eight employees.

What this means is facilities are not going to be cleaned as frequently, graffiti will not be cleaned as quickly, parks will have trash can overflows, street potholes will not be repaired expeditiously, (cutting) high weeds will take longer, customer service will be affected, the city will conduct no special events, inspections will take longer, mandated state programs will be put on the back burner until funds are available, and reports will be delayed.


Chuck Deschenes, city manager, Waterford

We really do not have any specifics of what the state will try to do. Usually when the state tries to mitigate its pain, it increases the pain of cities and counties. Naturally, we do not think this is fair. We have diligently tried to render essential services to our citizens in an effective and efficient manner. Cities and counties are the ones that provide police and streets, and statewide, fire. The majority of our budget is for these essential services and utilities.

The impact to Waterford will not be because of what the voters did, but will be the result of what the state does. The state has many choices. In the past, it has been relatively easy to impose cuts on local governments rather than overhaul and improve the efficiency of their own bureaucracies.

Any further reductions in resources to Waterford will result in the impairment of our ability to render essential public safety, streets and utility services that our citizens depend on every day. So I hope the state takes another route and looks at its own operation first.


Arturo Flores, superintendent, Modesto City Schools district

Modesto City Schools faces losing an estimated $7 million of current funds and $7.5 million annually beginning July 1. I am certain the public understands the severity of the state budget situation. Parents and students must remain confident that all districts are working hard to ensure a quality education for all students.


Lori Decker, chief financial officer, Turlock Unified School District

Funding reductions to education as a result of the failure of Propositions 1A through 1E will reduce district reserves that had already been impacted by the midyear cuts enacted in February. With staffing already in place for 2009-10, there are very few budget reductions the district can make next year. Students and parents will feel the biggest impact from funding reductions in the 2010-11 school year.

Officials with the cities of Turlock, Ceres, Newman, Ripon and Escalon did not respond.

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