Press Release from Alameda County -
Alameda County Administrator Susan S. Muranishi on June 5, presented a Proposed Alameda County Budget for Fiscal Year 2012-13 that calls for eliminating 37 vacant positions and other reductions in order to close a funding gap of $88.1 million.
The 2012-2013 Proposed Budget is balanced and provides more than $2.6 billion in total County spending authority.
Muranishi noted that the budget gap is under $100 million for the first time in four years, which suggests that the County’s concerted efforts to lower costs are having a positive impact.
These measures have included a four-year freeze on cost-of-living increases for most Alameda County employees and community based organizations that contract with the County. Moderate upturns in the local economy, including rising real estate prices and increasing numbers of homes sold, provide some reason for optimism that the trend toward diminishing budget deficits will continue, Muranishi said.
“We fully recognize the contributions made by service providers, County departments and agencies, and our 9,000-plus employees in order to maintain essential services and keep the County on solid financial footing,’’ she said.
The County’s finances remain constrained by housing prices that are far lower than their 2007 levels, resulting in lower property tax revenues that are the main source of the County’s discretionary funds.
Though the Alameda County assessment roll grew in Fiscal Year 2011-12, it was only by an anemic 0.37%. The unemployment rate in Alameda County also has dropped far below the 11.7% recorded in August 2010, but the 8.9% recorded in April remains stubbornly high.
“Until we return to normal employment levels, the County will be challenged by the double-edged sword of higher demand for services and lower revenues to pay for those services,’’ said Supervisor Keith Carson, who chairs Alameda County’s Budget Workgroup.
With the release of the State Budget’s May Revision, the Governor has acknowledged a funding deficit of $15.7 billion, or $6.5 billion higher than the $9.2 billion gap estimated in January. Half of the Governor’s proposals to close the State’s funding gap involve spending cuts, including reductions to health and human services programs administered by local government and the use of assets from now-defunct local redevelopment agencies.
With regards to “realignment’’ -- the State’s transfer of responsibility for many public safety and health and human services programs to counties -- much uncertainty remains, including whether the County will receive adequate funding to pay for realigned services.
The Proposed Budget supports a workforce of 9,060 full-time positions. The $88.1 million funding gap was determined by identifying the difference between the cost of maintaining existing programs and available financing. The Proposed Budget calls for using a combination of permanent ongoing program reductions, revenue increases, and one-time strategies to close the funding gap.
Through ongoing cost-saving and revenue generation efforts, County agencies/departments have offered to contribute $48.4 million in prior-year “Fiscal Management Reward” savings to help balance the FY 2012-13 Budget. Alameda County’s Fiscal Management Reward Program allows departments to carry over net savings each fiscal year to be used in subsequent years for budget balancing and to help preserve vital services.