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WatchSonoma Watch

Agencies in county brace for big cuts

By KERRY BENEFIELD and BRETT WILKISON
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Agencies across Sonoma County were scrambling Tuesday to determine the impact of the $1 billion in statewide cuts Gov. Jerry Brown announced as part of his latest bid to balance the state’s budget.

The range of public services affected includes programs for the ailing and developmentally disabled, fees charged to the county for housing violent juvenile offenders and support for higher education.

An $80 million statewide reduction for K-12 education also could result in a shortened school calendar, Santa Rosa school officials said.

“These are deep cuts on top of the cuts we’ve already been making in the last couple of years,” Efren Carrillo, chairman of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, said of local government programs.

The governor also proposed charging counties $125,000 a year to continue housing each of the juvenile offenders considered among the most violent. That would boost state revenues by about $72 million a year.

“That’s going to have a huge impact on our probation system,” said Supervisor Shirlee Zane.

A $30 million cut to the community college system threatens to increase Santa Rosa Junior College fees by an additional $10 a unit.

Sonoma State University expects to absorb a $2.3 million cut to its current school year budget as a result of a $100 million reduction for the California state university system. The reduction follows $11.5 million in cuts Sonoma State made this year, said SSU President Ruben Armiñana.

Education officials noted that the $80 million reduction in K-12 was far less than anticipated but warned that the potential for deep cuts remains for the 2012-13 school year.

“Our advice to districts is do not go back and reinstate (spending) because there are more cuts coming and anything you put in, you will have to take out,” said Sonoma County Superintendent of Schools Steve Herrington. “We already know that the January budget is going to come out with more budget cuts. I would tell them to stay the course and keep the cuts they have already made in their budget so it will put them in a better position this May.”

The announcement Tuesday throws into confusion how the remaining days of the school year will play out in Sonoma County’s largest school district.

In September, the Santa Rosa School Board voted to add back a school day on Dec. 22 and tentatively approved the addition of classroom days on March 16 and April 6 when furloughs had previously been scheduled. In the same move, the board approved the possibility of adding a furlough day May 4 to replace the date added in December, should the district need to save as much as $466,700.

But those changes were dependent upon state budget triggers and on Tuesday it remained unclear whether Santa Rosa City Schools will in fact add furlough days in March, April and May to save as much as $1.3 million. The Dec. 22 school day will remain on the calendar regardless of the budget announcement.

“My understanding is that we will have to have the furlough days to make it work,” said School Board President Frank Pugh.

But Santa Rosa Teachers Association President Andy Brennan said changes in the calendar are subject to negotiation and might not be necessary in the end.

“There was also an understanding that if the trigger cuts were not as severe as expected, we were going to come back to the negotiating table to see how many of those furlough days come back,” he said.

Most school districts across Sonoma County had made pre-emptive cuts to prepare for worst-case scenario state revenues — numbers that did not materialize Tuesday — but could come into play in January when a 2012-13 budget is expected to be unveiled.

Anne Barron, interim chief financial officer for Cotati-Rohnert Park School District, said the district will have to tap reserves just to ride out the less-than-expected cuts for the current school year.

“There are not really spending cuts that we can make at this point in the school year,” she said. “We have cut everything that is not salaries.”

The impact of the trigger cuts on thousands of Medi-Cal recipients was not yet known, Sonoma County officials said.

The state would reduce by 20 percent the hours that in-home care patients qualify for. A Dec. 2 court order has temporarily stopped implementation of the cut.

Another trigger cut would eliminate a $380,000 fraud-prevention program that resolves disputes about the number of hours worked by in-home caregivers. The cut would not affect services to clients, county officials said.

“I’m grateful that, for the time being, our clients are relatively unaffected by the trigger cuts,” said Sonoma County Human Services Director Jo Weber.

Staff writer Martin Espinoza contributed to this story.





16 Responses to “Agencies in county brace for big cuts”

  1. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    Money Grubber-I think you would be surprised at how many jobs have been cut. All rank and file jobs, not management. Frontline staff work with you. They are the NECESSARY work force. When the ratio to frontline employees to management is low there is something seriously wrong.
    For example, many programs within Health services were cut and closed with the idea they would be picked up by the federal clinics (contracting out). Well, the money expected isn’t coming at the amount expected. So now this county no longer has an HIV, tuberculosis, birth control and women’s health clinics. Other services have been cut also. Even with the money the federal clinics aren’t as effective as DHS is in locating and helping people. It’s not the only department cut to the bare bone with more cuts coming AT THE BOTTOM. The county will be contracting out more services. Rabbitt and Carrillo are real fans of contracting out.

    Every person laid off of a higher paying secure job is a hit to the economy. You all just don’t seem to get that. Public employees spend their paychecks locally which stimulates BUSINESS. We should all have security, decent wages and benefits in our jobs. It’s seems to me that a lot of people out there, including you, don’t feel you deserve it and if you don’t have this security then no one should.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  2. Ricardo Sorentino says:

    RE: Money Grubber – “But I didn’t see you suggest even one government function that is unnecessary. Not one. So, you actually believe that there isn’t a single government function that is luxury and that we can cut?”

    Here’s an interesting opinion that I agree with:

    “Government has no money of its own. All it does is take from some people and give to others. That may create some jobs, but only by leaving less money in the private sector for job creation.

    Actually, it’s worse than that. Since government commandeers scarce resources by force and doesn’t have to peddle its so-called services on the market to consenting buyers, there’s no feedback mechanism to indicate if those services are worth more to people than what they were forced to go without.

    The only people who create real, sustainable jobs are in private businesses — if they’re unsubsidized.”

    http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2011/12/17/how-job-creators-are-fighting-back/

    Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  3. truth in news says:

    Pehaps we would have more money to spend at home if we quit voting for governments who are so quick to send our tax dollars over sas. What did I read, 700million dollars to Pakastan? How much to the rest of these third world nations? How much for the illegals here?

    Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  4. Money Grubber says:

    Elizabeth:

    You want to save the funding for disabled people.

    What do you suggest as a function of government that is more reasonable to cut?

    No suggestions?

    If you say “tax,” then you are claiming that government has not a single function that is unnecessary. And that, my friend, is a government lie.

    Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  5. Money Grubber says:

    Mockingbird:

    I see you favor the disadvantaged.

    I see you favor taxes.

    But I didn’t see you suggest even one government function that is unnecessary. Not one.

    So, you actually believe that there isn’t a single government function that is luxury and that we can cut ?????

    Come on, now. You want to tax the luxury yachts. Lets cut the luxury government operations. Like the excess staffing.

    How about the County Dept of Community Development? They handle the real estate permits. Know how many permits are being sought these days? Yet the county keeps that office and its director cozy and warm on the taxpayers dime.

    Thumb up 5 Thumb down 3

  6. Elizabeth says:

    I don’t agree that county managers are corrupt, but I do think that more scrutiny needs to be given to the priorities that are being funded and duplications of service. The same goes for the state.

    Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  7. Money Grubber says:

    When you have a government budget that is already bloated and 150 per cent of what it needs to be….

    And then you “cut” that bloated budget…

    You end up with a budget that actually resembles reality rather than crisis.

    But, you see, its the government lie that they just can’t stop chanting.

    Its all a matter of priority. But government refuses to prioritize or they just don’t know how. They actually think that every single function that they have is an essential to life. They actually believe that.

    Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  8. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    Elizabeth-I can’t think of money better spent than helping the disabled. I ride the city bus and has met some of them. I applaud their independence-going to and from school and work. I can’t say enough good things about how you that work with this population helps them become as independent as possible and helps their caregivers too.

    Why is it, that when money is cut, the first funds that are cut hits this population and in home support services? And the rich don’t have to pay sale taxes on the yachts? And the state doesn’t charge an extraction tax on the oil industry THAT EVERY OTHER OIL PRODUCING STATE CHARGES?

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  9. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    Steveguy-you should attend the BOS meetings. The union people are always there blowing whistles LOUD AND CLEAR WITH FACTUAL NUMBERS. There are way too many managers in the county. They didn’t get laid off. They get county paid deferred compensation which the BOA has refused to discontinue but they’re ok about laying off lower paid rank and file union members. The union has pointed out this deferred compensation many times at the public meetings asking that it be stopped. Stopping the payment would save the county MILLIONS. The PD could pick up the gauntlet and help out instead of knocking ALL public employees in their articles like they all are rolling in dough and ripping off the public.

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  10. Steveguy says:

    Ok, a $380,000 cut in the Fraud Prevention of In home services..

    How much do they bring in ? $42,000 ?

    Maybe the $380,000 would be better spent on COUNTY Fraud. They can pay for themselves in a week !

    Yes, County fraud and theft through political favors !

    Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  11. Steveguy says:

    Only services will be cut, there will be ZERO cuts in ‘ management’ with their 6 figure salaries, and the ‘ CONSULTANTS’ ?? Never mind, millions here, millions there for them, usually ex-cronies milking the cash.

    It is treasonous! Occupy the Government !

    When are the rank and file County Employees going to come forward and whistle-blow on their ‘ superiors’ ? When ?
    Well?

    Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  12. Elizabeth says:

    This article glosses over $100 million in cuts to services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. There are over 3,000 people in this county with such conditions served by non-profit community-based organizations. The anticipated cuts will effectively dismantle the system of support, eliminating a necessary safety net.

    Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

  13. GAJ says:

    Why don’t the Board of Supervisors show some backbone and do what the legislators in Sacramento have done since 1999.

    Cut their pay and completely eliminate their own pensions.

    That would vastly increase their credibility as they move forward on necessary adjustments to Public Sector pay and benefits.

    Simply picking on the young, the old, the sick and the destitute to “pare down” the budget is simple cowardice.

    Thumb up 11 Thumb down 3

  14. Follower says:

    Babies cry when you take their candy away.
    Even when they “grow up”!

    Thumb up 7 Thumb down 4

  15. Money Grubber says:

    ““That’s going to have a huge impact on our probation system,” said Supervisor Shirlee Zane.”"

    Everyone knew it was coming EXCEPT Supervisor Zane, apparently.

    Vote NO for Zana next election if for no other reason that being stupid in public.

    Thumb up 15 Thumb down 13

  16. The Oracle says:

    What does it look like when a blind economy starves its internal organs?

    Thumb up 20 Thumb down 6

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