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Declining national and state economies with a related drop in local revenues have forced the Placer County Board of Supervisors to weigh additional cost-cutting measures for this fiscal year as well as set the groundwork for the 2009-10 fiscal year.

The county’s 2008-09 fiscal year .budget, which was balanced when approved on September 9, now faces approximately an $8 million shortfall. This has occurred because of a sharp decline in actual and projected revenues, particularly property and sales taxes. Additionally, the Governor’s proposed budget includes further reducing local criminal justice funding of yet another $1 million.

Next year promises to be even more challenging, with further declines in sales and property taxes. This does not include probable midyear impacts yet to be adopted by the State of California.

Counties and cities are required to balance revenues with expenses, so budget challenges such as these are facing local governments statewide.

Prudent steps taken by supervisors beginning in August of 2007, such as hiring restrictions, expenditure reductions and conservative estimates on revenue helped balance last year’s budget. These measures remain in place but won’t be enough to overcome the new challenges of declining revenues. Additional steps must be taken.

One of the proposed measures that have been reported is to close most county offices during Christmas week, Dec. 22 to 26, a mandatory unpaid leave for most employees. Critical services such as law enforcement would remain available. This step would save an estimated $1.5 million to $2 million.

The County has heard directly from a number of county employees voicing concern in regard to such a four-day closure.

The County continues to look for a plan involving unpaid leave that will minimize the impact on employees and the public.

During the Board of Supervisors meeting on December 9, the board will hear information about budget issues and consider possible ways to cut costs.

‘Despite our earlier cost-cutting, business as usual is not sustainable,’ declared Thomas M. Miller, County Executive Officer. ‘Our priority will be to rebalance this year’s budget, while minimizing the reductions in service to our communities.

‘The Board of Supervisors must position the county to face next year’s budget challenges, which are expected to be worse. Therefore we will also look for ways to reorganize for better delivery of services and programs.’

Placer County is mandated to provide a broad array of services to more than 330,000 residents, including those who live in cities. Approximately 85 percent of county revenues are spent on county wide services, such as safety net health and human services, jails, elections and fiscal management.

Additionally, the county provides municipal services, such as law enforcement services, roads and bridges, parks and libraries to residents who live in the unincorporated areas.

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