During its meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 9, 2008, the Placer County Board of Supervisors will consider closing County offices for four days over the next six months as a cost-saving measure and consider other mid-year budget adjustments.
The four days under consideration are Friday, Dec. 26; Friday, Feb. 13; Monday, April 13; and Friday, May 22. The mandatory time off would apply to about 2,200 employees, including confidential and management employees. Critical services, such as law enforcement and corrections, would remain available, similar to extended holiday times like the recent Thanksgiving closure.
A proposal reported earlier that would have closed county offices from Dec. 22 to Dec. 26 is no longer under consideration, according to Thomas M. Miller, County Executive Officer.
“From the beginning, the County looked for a plan involving unpaid leave that would minimize the impact on employees and the public,” Miller said. “However, the County heard directly the concerns expressed by our employees about the hardship of furloughs over the holiday period.
“This alternate proposal spreads the mandatory time off across several months,” he said.
Declining national and state economies with a related drop in local revenues are forcing the Placer County Board of Supervisors to weigh additional cost-cutting measures for this fiscal year and to lay the groundwork for greater challenges during the 2009-10 fiscal year.
The county’s 2008-09 fiscal year budget, which was balanced when approved on September 9, now faces approximately an $9.5 million shortfall, the result of a sharp decline in actual and projected revenues, including taxes on property and sales, investment and other revenue, and reduced criminal justice funding called for in the Governor’s proposed budget.
Since August of 2007, Placer County has taken a number of aggressive steps to reduce spending. Last July, the County made the difficult decision to lay off eight building employees because their workloads had declined as construction industry slowed down.
The County also reduced funded positions and kept other funded positions vacant. In fiscal year 2007-08, Placer County had 2,728 funded positions. In 2008-09, the County reduced its number of funded positions by 120 to 2,608. However, of that number, only 2,489 are filled.
Other cost-cutting strategies that remain in place include avoiding non-essential purchases, reorganizing operations to deliver services more efficiently and controlling the use of overtime and extra help.
If approved, the closure of most county offices for four days could save the county General Fund up to $2 million, providing a partial solution to the overall budget problem.
“The Board’s prudent cost-cutting measures have really helped protect our services to residents during the last year, but these cuts won’t be enough to make up for the loss of revenues,” said CEO Miller. “Our board will need to make hard decisions about significant cost-cutting measures during the next few months.
“The next two to three budget years will be far more difficult than we have faced in recent years, and we still don’t know what additional challenges the state budget issues will create.
If we are unsuccessful in cutting costs this year, it is possible that next year’s operating deficit could total more than $25 million.”
The Board will discuss the proposed furloughs and other cost-cutting measures at 11:30 a.m. during its regular meeting, to be held County Administrative Center, 175 Fulweiler Avenue in Auburn. The meeting begins at 8:30 a.m.
Other cost saving measures to be considered Tuesday include removing the General Fund’s contribution to the Road Fund, removing funding from 38 vacant positions, authorizing the use of $1.7 million in General Fund reserves, and reducing funds for services and supplies.
The Board of Supervisors is expected to take a more comprehensive look at cost-cutting measures in February 24, when mid-year revenues will be known as well as state budget impacts.