Monday, 11 June 2012 01:24

Iley answers Union claim that budget is surplus

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Amador County – Amador County Chief Administrative Officer Chuck Iley last week answered a claim by a union negotiator that the county actually has a budget surplus.

At a May 22 budget workshop, Steve Bristow, Service Employees International Union business agent said a state-mandated audit showed a county budget surplus, but agreed a final budget is a work in progress, even at the end of the fiscal year, and the real end of the fiscal year is in September, when spending records.

Bristow said the county had a surplus carryover projected at $3.2 million dollars by the state auditor. Bristow said: “I think there are ways that we can work this out. So far we’ve received nothing but positive input from Supervisors.

Bristow pointed at concessions of about $1.2 million to $1.3 million dollars that employees made three years in a row, about a 10 percent concession at $1.3 million total per year.

Supervisor John Plasse said the board made it available to choose 36-hour work weeks or go to layoffs, and employees voted to go with former. Plasse said county deficit spending has to stop.

Bristow said: “What you’ve done with that surplus was fiscally prudent.”

Supervisor Vice Chairman Richard Forster said they waited last year to let union members decide on layoffs or furloughs and the County lost two months of revenue savings. He said the layoffs will help keep the county solvent.

Bristow said other counties have 8-9% reserves, and Amador County has 24 percent in reserves.

John Hopkins, director of county General Services said about the reserves Bristow was talking about, there is no “bucket of money,” and the county does not have enough money when they look at all the projects, including some mandated capital improvement projects.

Plasse said 24 percent of our General Fund budget is a pretty small number, while in some counties, 8% is $10 million dollars.

Iley in a response last week said: “Spending $1.2 million dollars per year more than we are taking in does not count as a surplus, no matter how much SEIU wants to call it that.”

He said the County had a carryover of $4.7 million in fiscal year 2010-2011, and they anticipate “that will shrink to about $2.7 million to bring into fiscal year 2012-2013.”

He said the Board of Supervisors has been prudent in building a $7.5 million reserve, but the county must defend five suspects in the Carbondale marijuana farm murder trial. He said the “defense costs for each case could top $1 million. The state may help but there are no guarantees.”

He offered to explain the audit to people and “demonstrate that SEIU is distorting the facts in order to put political pressure on the Board.”

Story by Jim Reece This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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