Time to talk budget; Supervisors hope to add back hours and services

  With the 2012-13 fiscal year drawing to a close, the Plumas County Board of Supervisors is looking to next year.

  “I think it will be status quo,” said Susan Scarlett, the county’s budget officer.

  “Status quo was a painful place,” Supervisor Jon Kennedy responded.

  The exchange came during the supervisors’ June 4 meeting, after Scarlett provided some preliminary budget information to the supervisors.

  Scarlett told the supervisors that after consulting with Assessor Chuck Leonhardt, “it looks like we will hold steady on property tax.”

  Last year, the county experienced a 5 percent reduction in property tax revenue from the prior year. That reduction contributed to some of the cuts the supervisors made to the 2012-13 budget.

  Scarlett also led the supervisors through a year-to-date review of each department’s revenue and expenditures for this fiscal year to determine if there would be any major surprises that could impact the new budget.

  Most county department heads attended the session to answer questions, but there were no glaring issues.

  The supervisors discussed the budget process and decided to adopt the approach that they took last year, where they conducted budget workshops in the boardroom and then held public hearings.

  Scarlett said she thought the process would be less time-consuming this year because the board had balanced the budget last year and wouldn’t be facing the level of cuts previously experienced.

  And last year the supervisors used the budget workshops as an opportunity to understand how each of the departments functioned and how their budgets worked.

  The board balanced last year’s budget by implementing a series of cuts including furloughs, which left most county employees working four nine-hour days, which closed some departments on Fridays.

  Supervisor Sherrie Thrall said the reduced hours impacted both the employees and the county’s service to the general public.

  “I would really like to see us eliminate some furlough days,” she said.

  The board is also aware of the unfunded liabilities it has in terms of retirement and other post-retiree benefits that were not addressed in last year’s budget.

  While Thrall pressed to conduct the budget sessions sooner, rather than later, Scarlett said it’s important to have a more complete revenue picture.

  It’s anticipated that the workshops and hearings will occur later this summer, probably in August.

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