Jim Steinberg, Staff Writer
Posted: 06/15/2012 06:09:27 PM PDT
SAN BERNARDINO – The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a $4.06-billion budget Friday, setting a course toward trimming a $91.5-million deficit over the next few years, officials said.
It was the first time in 11 years that the board has approved a budget in its first public meeting designed for public input and discussion on the plan, said Josie Gonzales, the board’s chairwoman and 5th District supervisor.
“The board was united,” Gonzales said. “This speaks to the awareness of the economic struggle and our need to figure out what we can do.”
The 2012-13 spending plan is $28.8-million less than the current fiscal year’s, which ends June 30.
And county officials say the spending plan puts the county on a course to eliminate a $91.5-million deficit through 2015-16 – $32.2 million of which has been projected for the coming fiscal year.
“The board adopted an austere and balanced budget that will allow the county to continue serving and protecting residents, but unknown factors could still impact this spending plan, including cuts to the state budget and lackluster returns in our retirement system,” 2nd District Supervisor Janice Rutherford said in a statement.
It was unclear Friday how the state’s plan would affect the county’s budget. California lawmakers passed a $92- billion budget Friday, but they left welfare cuts and other issues unresolved with Gov. Jerry Brown, who had not yet signed the state budget.
San Bernardino County supervisors have warned that the state’s budget could have a serious impact on the county budget, especially in the area of social services.
But even without the state’s plan, Friday’s budget had its cuts.
$11.8 million in reductions to department budgets.
$7.3 million in reductions to capital projects.
$8.9 million in labor union concessions that are under negotiation.
It also had its spending.
$20 million for an ongoing upgrade of the county’s outdated 800-megahertz public safety radio system.
$5.8 million in funding for county jails.
$3.8 million in one-time funding for land-use services.
$5 million in one-time funding for a Pavement Management Program.
The special meeting itself had little debate. There was no squabbling, no serious dissent, and no large public outcry.
Among the mildly contested items the board wrestled with on Friday was what to do about the nearly $2.2 million in unrecovered costs that the county has been quietly funding for 14 cities and towns that contract with the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department for police services.
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