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Auburn, Calif.- On Tuesday, Feb. 24, the Placer County Board of Supervisors will receive an update on the Fiscal Year 2009-10 county budget currently being written, and provide direction to staff regarding labor-related actions and policy issues. The update will take place at 11 a.m. at the County Administrative Center in Auburn. Information on what the Board will be addressing can be found online by clicking the following link: Supervisor’s Agenda.

‘Because of the current regional and national economic climate, our budgeting timeline cannot be business as usual,’ said County Executive Officer Thomas M. Miller. ‘Just as the Board acted decisively in December with mid-year budget corrections, we need to take actions now to better position the county for next fiscal year, which promises to be a challenging time for all cities and counties.’

Staff is recommending that the Board provide strategic directions now that they can finalize the budget sooner. Proposed changes can then take place when the Fiscal Year begins, on July 1, 2009.

Placer County is projecting approximately an $18.5 million gap for the next fiscal year, as operating costs continue to grow while revenues are flat or declining, a pattern facing all jurisdictions.

‘The sooner we can implement changes, the sooner we can begin further reducing our costs,’ Miller stressed.

Supervisors will consider making labor adjustments that would affect only management and confidential employees, who are not represented by a bargaining unit. The adjustments would reduce labor costs as part of a ‘no-layoff’ plan.

The proposal emerged last month after confidential and management employees voluntarily submitted more than 200 cost-saving proposals, which were analyzed and shared in staff meetings. Team members were then surveyed regarding their preferences. More than 88 percent preferred reductions in pay over layoffs of the existing workforce. The Board will consider an option that includes 12 mandatory time-off days, capping a November cost of living adjustment at 2.5 percent and temporarily redefining vacation cash out options and accrual limits.

‘I have been impressed by their thoughtful suggestions and the willingness of our managers and confidential employees to voluntarily accept reductions as a means of avoiding layoffs, and also their desire to protect the services we provide to the public,’ CEO Miller said.

Supervisors will also be asked to authorize formation of an employee ‘cost saving task force’ to analyze and develop implementation strategies for other cost reductions proposed by the managers and confidential employees.

The County Executive Office also recommends further discussions with Placer Public Employees Organization (PPEO) to discuss options that could effect a ‘no-layoff budget’ for represented employees. Local 39 represents a majority of county employees. The county will ask to meet with the Deputy Sheriff’s Association (DSA) representatives to discuss the county’s current financial situation and potential remedies with that organization.

Supervisors will be asked to review a number of other potential policy changes to save money. In each case options are being provided that would result in budget savings.

Policy decisions under consideration include:

Payment options for a new helicopter which was ordered in 2006 for the Sheriff’s office;
An expanded use of internal department auditing to seek cost savings;
A review of the use of fleet vehicles, particularly those being taken home;
And a review of travel and training practices.

Of the $18.5 million projected shortfall, the county is estimating that at least $3.4 million will be as the result of the newly-crafted state budget, however information is not complete. In addition to labor and policy savings, the budget will likely be a combination of cost reductions, redirection of short term funding and prudent use of reserves.

The good news, according to CEO Miller, is that Placer County has been ahead of the curve in budget planning. ‘The fact that our Board has taken strategic cost-saving actions as soon as possible has made this challenging budget year far more manageable than it otherwise would have been,’ he stressed. ‘The next few years will be extremely challenging, but Placer County will be better positioned to weather the storm if we continue to plan ahead and make changes early.’

The county’s 2008-09 budget remains balanced as a result of mid-year budget corrections approved in December, which included four days of mandatory time off, which is expected to save approximately $2 million and a number of employee positions. The Board rebalanced the budget by $9.5 million with actions that also included reducing personnel costs by keeping positions open, reducing budgets for services and supplies, cancelling reserves and reducing a contribution to the road fund.

Confidential employees are those are not represented by a union, but who do sometimes work with confidential labor information as part of their jobs.

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