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CalCo Supervisors Put Finishing Touches On Budget

A $72-million spending plan completed last week includes a 3.5 percent pay increase for Calaveras County´s 450 employees, plus longevity boosts for those with years of service to the county, County Administrative Officer Tom Mitchell said Monday.

The raises represent a source of management pride for Mitchell, who credits fiscally conservative supervisors and pragmatic department heads for their leadership.

“We´re actually in pretty good financial shape to weather the state budget crisis,” Mitchell said, noting that other California counties have had to resort to layoffs, hiring freezes and staff reductions to make ends meet.

Mitchell called the county´s new budget “a reflection on our board and its conservative policies and on our department heads. It´s a tribute to the people providing leadership in the county. We´re not expanding services, but we are trying to maintain the services we´ve got.”

The new budget does allocate more money to environmental health, mental health and welfare, however, and supervisors approved a new environmental health specialist position, two social worker positions and one eligibility worker position.

They also approved an increase in the county´s capital improvement projects fund, but without naming specific projects.

Supervisors sped through hearings last week with the goal of eliminating a $481,000 deficit.

They not only eliminated it, they did so ahead of schedule, finishing Thursday instead of Friday as expected.

Mitchell said the deficit was due to a decline in revenue from the county share of vehicle license fees, to salary increases and to a mixture of other adjustments and costs.

Supervisors eliminated the deficit by decreasing the $29 million general fund by $71,000, reducing the budget for office relocations and furniture by $110,000 and deferring a $300,000 payment to the state for what an audit said it owes in child support funds.

This year´s budget is up more than $6 million from last year´s budget of $65,826,509.

The increase is a combination of about $1.5 million in cash left over from last year´s budget and estimated increases in expected revenue, Christine Hollingshead, county accountant auditor, said.

Other costs included in this year´s budget are the 3.5-percent raises for county employees and elected officials, an increase in workers´ compensation insurance and $58,000 to hold the Oct. 7 special recall election.

“Throughout California counties are laying off employees and having hiring freezes,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell is pleased Calaveras County didn´t have to do the same. “The board has always been fiscally conservative. We´ve done well,” he said.

The board began the budget process June 23 by adopting a draft budget.

The Board of Supervisors could officially adopt the budget Sept. 22 at its regularly scheduled meeting.

Calaveras Enterprise story by Vanessa Turner. For more Calaveras news, click:calaverasenterprise.com