New: Alameda County Administrator Proposes $2.4 Billion Budget

By Jeff Shuttleworth, BCN
Friday June 11, 2010 - 12:29:00 AM

Alameda County Administrator Susan Muranishi today presented a proposed $2.44 billion budget for the 2010-2011 fiscal year, beginning July 1, that closes a $150 million budget gap by cutting 33 jobs and reducing services.  

In a briefing with reporters before she presented the budget to the county's Board of Supervisors, Muranishi said the county is facing "a double whammy" when trying to balance its budget because the need for vital county services is increasing, but revenues are down because of the poor economy.  

In fact, Muranishi said this is the first time in at least 50 years that the county's revenues have declined.  

She said revenues have dropped by 4.4 percent because of declines in property taxes, sales taxes and interest earnings.  

The proposed budget is only 0.3 percent, or $8.2 million, higher than the budget for the current fiscal year, which ends on June 30, Muranishi said.  

She said that while the $150 million gap between the county’s revenues and expenditures is significant, it is smaller than the $178 million budget gap from the 2009-2010 fiscal year.  

Muranishi said she plans to balance the county's budget by reducing some programs and keeping a lid on labor costs.  

She said "labor has largely stepped up to the plate," and most unions that represent county employees have agreed to freeze workers’ salaries for the next three years.  

The salary freeze had already been applied to managers, Muranishi said.  

Although Muranishi is proposing to cut the number of county employees, she said she plans to achieve that goal through attrition instead of layoffs.  

As bad as the county's budget situation is now, Muranishi said it could get even worse if the state follows through on its proposal to make further reductions in its funding for cities and counties.  

"It's very likely that we will have to reopen the budget and it will be a long summer," she said.  

Muranishi said funding cuts by the state could result in the elimination of the CalWORKs program, which provides short-term cash assistance and self-sufficiency support for 20,000 needy families in Alameda County and supports 400 County employees.  

And she said a reduction in benefits and increased premiums and co-pays in the Healthy Families Program would affect 15,000 children in the county who receive health insurance through the program and would otherwise be uninsured.  

There also could be reductions in in-home supportive services for elderly and disabled people, Muranishi said.  

The Board of Supervisors will hold public hearings on the budget June 22, 23 and 24 and is scheduled to adopt the budget on June 25.