Santa Clara County Executive Jeff Smith has released a proposed budget for the 2011 fiscal year that addresses a $223.2 million deficit in the county's general fund through program and service cuts, use of one-time revenue and layoffs.
The $4.2 billion recommended budget takes into account all services, operations, capital improvements and reserves.
The county's budget is contingent upon the overall economy. A strong economy means more tax revenue for programs and services. During a weak economy, the county is adversely affected in that revenue decreases as demand for county safety net services increases.
Next year will be the ninth consecutive year of budget deficits, Smith said.
"Local governments struggle everyday to provide needed services with dwindling resources, a situation that has grown astronomically during the current economic crisis," Smith said. "The impact of the current economic recession has been devastating to families in Santa Clara County, the state of California, and across the country."
The proposed budget fills the deficit with $84.8 million in program and service cuts, and one-time funding sources that total $138.4 million.
A total of 193 full-time positions would be eliminated.
To close the budget gap, county departments are contributing from either expenditure reductions or new revenues totaling $48.5 million. The Santa Clara Valley Medical Center is contributing $35.7 million.
The Social Services Agency will cut $27.8 million in the department of family and children's service by reducing 45.5 positions. The Clover House Visitation Center is slated to be closed and decentralized, leading to the elimination of 16.5 positions.
The probation department will contribute $2.9 million by cutting 23 positions and restructuring the juvenile monitoring and community release program. This plan would also eliminate the informal juvenile and traffic court.
Besides reductions, the budget proposes new initiatives in health and law enforcement programs. One such example is eliminating duplication between the sheriff's office and the department of correction in personnel, internal affairs and administration, which could result in an estimated $5 million savings, Smith said. Under the new plan, correctional officers will continue to receive specialized training and the sheriff will exercise authority in providing correctional officers the right to carry weapons.
Smith said the public health, mental health and drug and alcohol departments will receive a combined $8 million and will not have to cut services.
"We must start rebuilding these health programs to avoid any further fraying of the safety net," Smith said. "These investments will help us stabilize critical safety net services and eventually generate an even greater return by reducing the flow of clients into the health care system."
One-time funding sources will total $110 million from three revenue sources, including the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Santa Clara Valley Medical Center and the San Jose Redevelopment Agency.
The county's outlook for the following fiscal year does not appear to be very optimistic, especially with pension costs expected to increase along with other pension benefit costs in fiscal year 2013.
Smith said although the national economy appears to be improving, the county's fiscal challenges over the next five years will require collaboration and cooperation.