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The Placer County Board of Supervisors took a close look Tuesday at several key budget challenges that will face the county next fiscal year and a preliminary plan for addressing them.

The county budget team presented the county’s looming budget challenges and its plan for handling them Tuesday to set the stage for presentation of a proposed 2015-16 budget for board approval on June 16.

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The budget-development plan would:

  • Provide a one-time increase in funding for the Placer County Library;
  • Expand capacity at the county’s new jail in Roseville while increasing treatment and programming available to adult offenders;
  • Allow county staff to complete development of the proposed Placer County Conservation Plan and possibly provide $1 million for open-space acquisitions through the Placer Legacy Open Space and Agricultural Conservation Program;
  • Provide a fire service funding approach for Placer County Fire, despite contract cost increases of 21 percent over last year;
  • Allow the county to continue making progress on deferred facility, road and trail maintenance; and
  • Continue the county’s emphasis on employee engagement, organizational development and succession planning – an effort to ensure smooth transitions when key employees retire.

Budget challenges presented to the board Tuesday involve supplemental budget requests that will come from projected one-time carryover funds from the 2014-15 fiscal year that will be available during the new fiscal year.

Several of the supplemental funding requests discussed Tuesday are being built into the proposed budget.

Placer County Fire is staffed by CAL FIRE firefighters through a contract with the county. Under the budget plan reviewed by the board Tuesday, the budget will include $670,000 in one-time funds that will allow the Ophir fire station to remain staffed for six months through the fire season and provide fire-season funding for a brush truck that is particularly effective in combatting grass and brush wildfires. The budget plan also would provide $100,000 for a study that will evaluate consolidation implementation options for fire service countywide. 

Board members agreed that Placer County, the independent fire districts and other fire agencies that serve the county need to take a comprehensive look at how fire services are provided and funded. “We have an opportunity to take a more comprehensive big-picture perspective,” said Supervisor Robert Weygandt. “We have funding issues,” added Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery. “The special districts have funding issues.”

The 2015-16 budget plan calls for providing $400,000 in one-time additional funding for the Placer County Library: $200,000 for materials and a study of automated materials handling and $200,000 to partially bridge a projected revenue shortfall. The plans would allow the library to continue making progress in implementing its strategic plan that seeks to modernize operations, reverse erosion in services and build capacity for the future. 

The plan would allow the Loomis branch library to remain open through December in anticipation of a proposal from the Town of Loomis to help support the library. The Meadow Vista branch would stay open at least till November.

The proposed budget will serve as the interim spending plan when the new fiscal year begins July 1. The board is scheduled to adopt a final budget in September. The two-phase budget process allows the county to incorporate updated revenue and expenditure estimates in the final budget.

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