Colusa County approves fiscal plan
The Colusa County Board of Supervisors adopted its most painful budget in history Tuesday, but without laying off or furloughing county employees.
County officials said they will be on pins and needles until the state adopts its final budget, and are hoping they can get through the year on $20 million in revenue until the economy picks up.
"We're dealing with abstract until the state gets its collective act together," said Supervisor Gary Evans.
Evans said this was by far the worst budget the county had to balance — a $12 million decrease from 2007-2008.
Auditor Peggy Scroggins said that while Colusa does have balanced numbers, significant spending cuts were put into place, including the elimination of all personnel overtime, overall reductions in spending and leaving some vacate positions unfilled.
"We are the only local jurisdiction in the area that did not have to cut personnel or salaries," Scroggins said. "Glenn County cut (salaries) 4 percent."
Scroggins said the county will have to rely on some one-time funding sources this year, and may have to look as suspending some programs in the future.
"We can't rely on this money because it won't cover ongoing costs," she said.
The county is also in the red in its solid waste and service area accounts, which will have to be addressed later, Scroggins said.
Sheriff Scott Marshall, whose $1.7 million department has taken a $1 million hit over the past two years, said the 2010-11 allocation would likely not be enough to get through the year.
"Cutting overtime in Sheriff's Department and jail is probably not sound," Marshall said. "It's going to happen and the labor standards act requires that we pay it."
Marshall said he is also uncomfortable with the county's "borrowing" of law enforcement funds over the past two years to balance the budget.
"It's very close to supplanting the budget, which is against the law," said Marshal. "But I'm patient that it will come back around."
Marshall said his budget also forces him to "unplug" the reverse 9-1-1 service and the sexual offender watch program, which are now unfunded.
Marshall, along with other department heads, added that budgeting utility costs the same as last year was also not realistic, considering the increase in overall utility costs this year.
"Cutting utility costs (in the budget) won't make Colusa keep our water on if we don't pay the bill," he said.
Even smaller cuts will have lasting impacts, department heads said Tuesday.
Library Director Wendy Burke said even the $6,000 cut to the county library means shutting down one day a week at the small branches.
Despite the bitter cuts, county officials do expect revenue to pick up if the county can hold on through the year.
Pacific Gas and Electric's power plant comes online this year; Central Valley Gas Storage project will be completed by next year, and possibly the Walker Ridge wind project will come online the following year.
"We do see a silver lining," said Supervisor Mark Marshall. "We continually look for revenue sources."
The Board said it will do monthly reviews to monitor the budget as it anticipates future cuts from the state to county programs.
"We will try to hold everything together to keep everyone employed," said Chairwoman Kim Dolbow Vann.
Colusa county budget
Colusa County Sheriff’s Department $1,705,872
Colusa County Judicial District $960,426
Social Services (realignment) $766,590
Colusa County Department of Agriculture $747,088
Colusa County Clerk/Recorder $245,691
Colusa County District Attorney $239,000
Colusa County Planning Department $226,406
Final recommended county budget $20,421,247