Board OKs budget

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By SCOTT PESZNECKER

The framework for the upcoming fiscal year's Calaveras County budget is in place sort of.

County supervisors yesterday adopted a proposed $64.5 million budget for the 2003-04 fiscal year, which starts July 1. Under the plan, most departments will have the same amount of money they had at the start of this fiscal year.

County Administrative Officer Tom Mitchell called it a "modified status-quo" budget.

However, until the state passes its own budget, county administrators will not know exactly how much they have to work with.

The state is facing a $38 billion shortfall. Mitchell said the county might lose up to $600,000 to the state to help pay down its deficit.

Calaveras County's final budget hearings will happen at the end of summer probably about the same time the state finalizes its budget. The state has already missed its constitutionally mandated June 15 deadline, and it's not uncommon for California's budget debates to go on for weeks.

Until it knows otherwise, the county plans to spend almost $1.8 million more this year on employee salaries and benefits.

However, the budget doesn't include costs for new fixed assets outside of the sheriff's and mental health departments, and it doesn't account for increases in workers' compensation insurance, public defender and attorney fees and medical contract costs for the county jail. It also doesn't include the possibility of higher compensation packages that could come from the Deputy Sheriff Association's negotiations with the county.

Come final budget hearings, Mitchell said, the health and CalWorks departments could be facing significant cuts, but those departments' budgets are more dependent than others on state funding, he said.

Contact Scott Pesznecker at spesznecker@uniondemocrat.com .

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