Tuesday, March 25, 2008

budgets, pt. 2

Bye, bye, budget problems?
By Sam Bhagwat
of the Valley Mirror
It’s a simple column of figures. Fifteen of them.
Ranging from tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars, they sit near the right edge of a lined page, handwritten by Finance Director Don Santoro, photocopied and distributed to a special Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday.
On the left are short notes and various abbreviations, confusing to the uninitiated: PPW, HSA, FTE.
But on the bottom is an all-important total: $1,793,000.
That’s a preliminary sum that the county’s department heads have figured out how to save out of next year’s general fund, almost all of the projected shortfall.
Some money was saved by finagling personnel shifts: an Agricultural Department biologist will work on Health Services solid waste problems; the court will pay the salary of a sheriff’s deputy providing security.
Other dollars will be saved by simply having fewer people: the sheriff’s department will leave five deputy positions open, something Sheriff Larry Jones said would be a “strain” on services.
There was some concern about why the process was needed.
“How did we get here?” asked chairman Mike Murray. “We suffered from ‘the sky is falling, the sky is falling’ each budget year.”
But the mood was generally congratulatory.
“The input was better than I’ve had in a long time,” said Mr. Santoro.
“The department heads have shown why Glenn County is such a great place to live and work,” said supervisor Tom McGowan.
County department heads will now go forward with preparing budgets based on projected revenue, though final numbers won’t be in until Sacramento passes its budget.
“I’m glad they didn’t postpone it any longer,” said Sheriff Jones. “We need to get down to brass tacks.”

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