Supes set to OK budget at $1.82 billionBy Michelle Durand
On Tuesday, the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors is set to do something the state of California can't seem to - pass a budget.
The $1.82 billion proposed budget is slightly higher than the $1.77 billion recommendation adopted in June and includes six more positions. The county closed out the last fiscal year with $50.3 million more in all of its funds, for a net increase of $47.1 million. Of that, $15.1 million will be used for one-time needs and $32 million is set aside from reserves.
The batch of proposals and report-back items for Tuesday's budget hearing also include a rather unique caveat from the Health System: rather than asking for millions to keep current programs afloat, Director Jean Fraser is telling the Board of Supervisors she would rather not accept funds for that reason.
"It pains us to recommend against restoring many of these difficult cuts. However, we are almost certain to have to make even more painful mid-year cuts either due to the state's budget or due to some of the uncertain funding streams ...," wrote Fraser in a report to the Board of Supervisors.
The board on Tuesday will consider whether to give the Health System $10 million cut from its budget to help a list of priorities including the HOME Team and SMART programs. Healthier Outcomes through Multidisciplinary Engagement (HOME) is a case management program trying to reduce the number of emergency room visits by frequent users. The San Mateo County Mental Health Assessment and Referral Team lets specially-trained paramedics conduct mental evaluations and place individuals on three-day holds if necessary.
Fraser said the Health System is very grateful for the financial support of these services but concerned using one-time money for ongoing needs will "merely delay the inevitable." Instead, she'd prefer the money be used to backfill anticipated state cuts, jail diversion efforts and extending electronic health record and billing systems to the Alcohol and Other Drugs division.
Another consideration is $200,000 in one-time money for the Department of Housing to whittle away its structural deficit and $100,000 in ongoing funds for its strategic initiatives like the Housing Endowment and Regional Trust.
From its creation, the department has only received $350,000 in general fund support, instead relying on federal sources. A steady-year decline in revenues and increased costs has left the Housing and Community Development unit with a half-million dollar structural budget deficit, according to Director Duane Bay.
Agreeing to the funds will leave the county's own structural deficit increased by $100,000.
The supervisors will also consider $2.4 million in changes, which include six new positions of which five are for the new Esperanza Clinic for the Developmentally Disabled at the Ron Robinson Senior Care Center. Those jobs add $705,140 to the budget; other revisions include a $1.24 million Bay Area Urban Area Security Initiative Grant for the Sheriff's Office, $410,293 to re-organize the Probation Department's IT desktop support, $1.6 million for the Eleanor Drive Sanitary Sewer Rehabilitation Project and $518,000 for the Crystal Springs/El Cerrito Trunk Line Project.
The budget up for adoption Tuesday does not include the agreement absorbing the San Carlos Police Department into the Sheriff's Office. That matter will come back as a mid-year budget change.
The county budget also doesn't include any state budget reductions short of a few exceptions because the state has "set a new standard of futility" in hashing out how to close a $19 billion gap, according to County Manager David Boesch.
Any changes based on the state will also need to come back as a mid-year adjustment.
Although the Board of Supervisors is set to adopt its current year budget, it - and all county officials - are still working to eliminate a structural deficit that currently stands at $70 million and is projected to hit $124 million by 2014-2015 with action.
The county is working to close the gap with cuts and concessions. Plans to raise approximately $25 million from a sales tax increase fell through when the Board of Supervisors voted not to place it on the November ballot.
The Board of Supervisors meets 9 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 28 in Board Chambers, 400 County Government Center, Redwood City.
Copyright ©2010 San Mateo Daily Journal. Published 09/27/2010.