Plumas County Administrative Officer Jack Ingstad told the Board of Supervisors at a Tuesday, Feb. 9, meeting that he would be recommending a $400,000 general fund reduction at mid-year.
The CAO said he would bring suggestions to the county budget committee, and the full board would hear the ideas resulting from that meeting in March.Chairwoman Sherrie Thrall commented the county’s willingness to cut in anticipation of problems stemming from the economic downturn had put it in a better position that many others.
Ingstad agreed that the board should be commended, adding that most boards were afraid to cut based on projections and that the Plumas County board acted more like a business than a government agency, which would pay off for the citizens in the long run.
He also spoke about some of the actions the county has taken to address the downturn.
Ingstad said that the county got state and federal dollars for a fire station at the Beckwourth airport, two paving projects at the road department, and the sheriff office’s new emergency public notification system.
He said that the county was also receiving funding for future projects, including work at the Quincy airport, the Lake Almanor recreation center, a content management system to keep information on the county website current, and probably a grant to increase broadband access in the county.
The CAO also pointed out that the board eliminated the development impact fee and that departments associated with new development, construction and building were meeting to coordinate the handling of submitted projects to make the process more efficient.
Ingstad suggested the board put together a committee of representatives from those departments and local contractors and developers to discuss what other measures could be taken to encourage projects to move forward.
He also thought the board should organize a summit of people involved in the tourism industry and county staff to try to make next summer less painful than the last.
The CAO gave the board some of his opinions on the state budget situation and the prospects of it improving.
“The only way the state’s economic situation is going to improve is if California’s economy improves.”
“Without a change in what’s happening with businesses and construction the state’s gonna have a problem.”
Addressing leadership at the state level, he continued, “They have not addressed the problem in my opinion.”
“They’ve taken money from the counties. They’ve taken money from everybody they can.”
“They have not really made, in my opinion, significant reorganization or cuts.”
On the amount of state oversight in the health and human services sector he argued, “They give us money to do programs, we’re an arm of the state, we’re trusted to do the work, and then they come in with 15 people and they spend a great deal of our time and their time making sure we did what we were supposed to do.”
He said the state organization of CAOs was suggesting the state should slate those oversight positions for reductions “as soon as possible,” adding, “I mean we’re the ones at the ground level, the local government that knows how to provide the services.”
“We don’t need somebody from the state coming in and telling us how to do things, and we think that they could cut substantially the number of employees in state government by reducing some of those people, but they have unions, they have a lot of pressure to keep people employed in Sacramento, and I don’t know if it will happen.”
Finally, he shook his head and conceded, “It’s very difficult for the state with all the politics and the fact that the legislators are only in there a couple years and then they’re term limited and they’re out.”
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