$2.8M deficit forecast for Yuba County
Some critical numbers, compared to past years, in considering the projected outlook for Yuba County's 2013-14 budget.
Projected: $2.81 million.
2010-11: $10.7 million.
Property tax revenues
Projected: $9.26 million.
2007-08: $10.8 million.
Pension cost increases
Projected: 19.57 percent.
2006-07: 10.96 percent.
From current fiscal year, projected: None.
Between 2011-12 and '12-13: About $2 million.
Even if the economy is slowly improving, the projected Yuba County budget picture for 2013-14 isn't showing it, with an estimated General Fund deficit of $2.81 million.
While anticipated drops in revenue are partly to blame, the bigger share of the blame is $2.29 million in cost increases from salaries, health care and pensions, County Administrative Officer Robert Bendorf told supervisors on Tuesday.
"These are really tough fi ures to grapple with," Bendorf told the board. "And the cost of business is not getting cheaper."
The most consistent culprit of higher costs, — health care benefits — is expected to see premium increases of 10 percent next year for the most popular employee plan, he said. The county pays for much of that increase, which will translate to about $464,000 more from the General Fund.
Pension increases will dent the General Fund budget by $505,000, Bendorf said, although the state's pension investment fund, which the county is run through, performed well in 2012.
Salary increases, much of them tied to cost-of-living adjustments, will total $1.3 million.
Board chairman Andy Vasquez went historical in his assessment of the situation, saying, "Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play? Sheez," after Bendorf finished his presentation.
Bendorf's presentation kicks off the process to form a 2013-14 state budget, with county department heads soon receiving instructions on the parameters for their budgets.
Although the county didn't specify whether layoffs would be part of the solution, the county has four fewer allocated positions, 870, for next fiscal year than in the current one.
Since 2008-09, Bendorf said, the county has laid off 72 employees, though it could have laid off twice as many and didn't because of steps taken elsewhere.
Supervisor John Nicoletti said he was particularly troubled by how rising costs seem as if they will even outstrip how much the county can cut to keep up. "It's a redefinition of local government," he said.
CONTACT Ben van der Meer at email@example.com or 749-4786. Find him on Facebook at /ADbvandermeer or on Twitter at @ADbvandermeer.
Bendorf: State not helping with problems
Yuba County Administrator Robert Bendorf said not all of the county's headaches relative to budget stem from the state.
Then again, he told supervisors on Tuesday, the state doesn't help much, either.
"They can fix their budget by harming other areas, such as economic development," Bendorf said.
For counties like Yuba that receive mandates from the state to provide certain services, but have no money to do so, the situation is tougher, he said.
In the next calendar year, ongoing criminal justice realignment and health care reform implementation — both of which will rely on state decisions and resonate locally — make budgeting for 2013-14 more uncertain, Bendorf said.
He received no encouragement when Gov. Jerry Brown, in presenting his state budget proposal, said some mandates would be waived. A state commission on mandates had already found those mandates weren't being paid for, Bendorf said.
Other mandates aren't connected to reality, he told supervisors. Though county officials understands complying with the state Public Records Act request is a part of the job, reimbursements from the state are far below costs.
"And when they get a request, they don't even respond to it," he said.
Board chairman Andy Vasquez asked whether there was any way to get around such mandates, but generally was told if so, they wouldn't be mandates.
County Counsel Angil Morris-Jones said Fresno County officials are pledging not to follow unfunded mandates, but have 11 attorneys on retainer to answer challenges.
"If you do, it's a losing battle," she said.
— Ben van der Meer