El Dorado leaders make first round of budget cuts | TahoeDailyTribune.com

El Dorado leaders make first round of budget cuts

Noel Stack, The Mountain Democrat

PLACERVILLE ” Strong support from three El Dorado County supervisors kept economic development, the museum and veterans services off the budget chopping block Tuesday.

Several other programs didn’t fare as well.

‘This is not easy for any of us,’ said Supervisor Rusty Dupray.

Dupray and Supervisor Helen Baumann advocated making deeper cuts than those approved. The two supervisors, who are termed out at the end of 2008, voted against the final motion.

The Board of Supervisors will have the same problem next year if the supervisors don’t make enough cuts now, Dupray argued.

‘We will not blame you,’ Supervisor Jack Sweeney responded.

Chief Administrative Officer Laura Gill presented a list a of proposed cuts and new revenues that would get the county about halfway to reaching the goal of cutting a projected $14.8 million deficit to $0 in fiscal year 2008-09.

The supervisors chose to vote only on the program cuts, ignoring the revenue proposals. Supervisors Sweeney, Norma Santiago and Ron Briggs made up the majority in deciding what to cut and what to save.

For nearly three hours the supervisors weighed their options, all agreeing that cuts had to be made but disagreeing about where and how much.

‘If not there, then where?’ Baumann asked as the supervisors went down the list.

‘This is a bad list,’ Auditor-Controller Joe Harn told the supervisors. ‘But to do nothing is the only thing worse than adopting this list.’

The county might see a deeper deficit than the $14.8 million projected because Gill’s figures assume that the state will not cut more from counties’ budgets, Harn said. Also, he added, the state’s payments to the counties will be later than usual and that could create a cash flow issue.

‘They’re going to pay us in arrears,’ Sweeney said. ‘I don’t think our employees will take IOUs, nor will our vendors.’

Despite more grim budget news supervisors and members of the audience stuck to their guns and asked to keep certain discretionary programs funded.

Betty January sided with the board majority’s decision to keep the El Dorado County Historical Museum open, saying it draws tourists to the county.

Gill’s proposal included a plan to shift some museum displays to the library. Closing the museum would have saved $63,000 this fiscal year and $135,000 next fiscal year.

‘It seems to me if we close down the museum we’re kind of shooting ourselves in the foot,’ January said. ‘This history needs to be protected and available.’

Veteran Jerry Jackson from Georgetown said reducing office hours one day a week at Veterans Affairs – a move that could save $12,500 this fiscal year and $50,000 next year, would adversely affect veterans.

‘The veterans of this county are really going to suffer,’ Jackson said.

Veterans Affairs Director Rod Barton said, ‘This will do more than close the office one day a week. This will decimate the department.’

This suggestion was taken off the table by Gill because of possible union issues.

Santiago and Briggs adamantly opposed a cut in the Economic Development Division, eliminating Economic Development Coordinator Sam Driggers’ position -saving $31,000 this fiscal year and $124,000 next fiscal year.

‘He just embodies what we need to do and that is create jobs,’ Briggs said. ‘We’ve got a guy who’s going to bring people here.’

Knowing more ideas would come and hoping that an expected report in Development Services will provide more options to cut that budget but improve service, Supervisors Sweeney, Santiago and Briggs took the following actions:

” Eliminating the economic development coordinator position

” Eliminating two additional filled positions in the Assessor’s Office.

” Closing the museum

” Eliminating the Code Enforcement unit

” Reducing hours at Veterans Affairs

” Eliminating the Missouri Flat coordinator position

” Cut two vacant positions in the Procurement and Contracts Division of the Chief Administrative Office, a department analyst and a buyer, saving $54,054 this fiscal year and $163,801 next fiscal year.

” Cut one administrative secretary from the Board of Supervisors office, saving $13,449 this fiscal year and $53,795 next fiscal year.

” Cut one personnel technician in Human Resources, saving $15,487 this fiscal year and $61,948 next fiscal year.

” Cut one department analyst, one administrative analyst and one architectural project manager from General Services, saving $76,470 this fiscal year and $305,880 next fiscal year.

” Cut the Bad Check Program and one position from the District Attorney’s Office, saving $4,204 this fiscal year and $33,630 next fiscal year.

” Eliminate the TREC Program in Probation and the two vacant positions associated, saving $156,762 next fiscal year.

” Close the Senior Nutrition site in Shingle Springs, saving $12,318 this fiscal year and $50,000 next fiscal year.

” Eliminate the Book-mobile, saving $6,000 this fiscal year and $24,000 next fiscal year.

E-mail Noel Stack at nstack@mtdemocrat.net or call (530) 344-5065.

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