San Bernardino County is making changes but on a narrow margin, Greg Devereaux says

BY IMRAN GHORI
STAFF WRITER
ighori@pe.com

Published: 03 October 2011 09:55 PM

San Bernardino County supervisors need to be willing to stand up to employee unions to solve a $134 million budget gap the county will face over the next five years, Chief Executive Officer Greg Devereaux said Monday.

Despite reductions of $84 million in the 2011-2012 budget adopted in June, the county’s expenses will continue to outpace its revenues due to rising pension costs and employee salaries and benefits, he said.

“The county is in a heck of a budget mess,” said Devereaux, who made his remarks as part of a lunch meeting of the Fontana Rotary Club.

Devereaux has asked employees to accept cuts to health and retirement benefits and give up salary increases to help solve the county’s budget problems. Although some employee groups have agreed to the concessions, the two largest have not, leaving the issue unresolved with more budget cuts possible in November if no agreement is reached.

Devereaux noted that it can be difficult for supervisors to oppose employee unions who have traditionally been important political players and large donors during election cycles.

He praised Board Chairwoman Josie Gonzales and Supervisors Janice Rutherford and Gary Ovitt for “leading that charge” in making tough decisions, pointedly omitting mention of Supervisors Brad Mitzelfelt and Neil Derry. Mitzelfelt voted against the budget while Derry did not participate in the vote.

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