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County budget picture brighter than last year

  Plumas County Supervisors Jon Kennedy and Terry Swofford, along with Auditor Roberta Allen and budget consultant Susan Scarlett, have been busy behind the scenes meeting with county departments regarding next year’s budget.

  Their work appears to be paying off.

  “It’s looking good; it’s going to be better,” Kennedy said during an interview Aug. 7. “Last year we had to deal with all of the hard cuts.”

  This year the supervisors are optimistic that they might be able to reinstate some of the funds cut last year and discussed some options during their Aug. 6 board meeting.

  “I’d like to see a reasonable way to lift some furloughs,” Kennedy said.

  It would take $510,000 to end all furloughs and since it is unlikely there would be the revenue to allow that, the supervisors broached the idea of eliminating the furloughs in some departments.

  “How would you decide?” Treasurer Julie White asked the board.

  Auditor Roberta Allen said, “You are better off doing none than some.”

  Kennedy said that if the board had to prioritize, then the departments that render “services to citizens should be considered first.”

  Allen responded, “We have to serve ourselves to serve the citizens.”

  Ultimately, no decision was reached and the board decided that more financial information was necessary before it could consider any option.

  During an Aug. 7 interview, Kennedy said it might be possible to lift furloughs by a rotation within the department — half of the staff would be off on alternate Fridays. Most county departments are currently closed on Friday.

  Budget meetings have been held with almost all of the departments, but Kennedy said follow-up discussions might be necessary for some.

  He remains optimistic that there could be revenue available in social services and mental health that would help the county budget by adding funds to such programs as senior nutrition.

  During the Aug. 6 meeting, budget consultant Scarlett asked the supervisors for guidance in setting up the budget hearings. Last year, each of the departments appeared before the board, and their budgets were discussed line by line — partly to uncover cost-saving areas, but also to educate the board about each department and how it functions.

  She suggested that the departments could be given the opportunity to address the board if they wanted to do so, but it wouldn’t be necessary to repeat what was done last year unless there were issues to be discussed.

  Kennedy said that he expects the final budget to be adopted in September.

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