Major cuts coming to county

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By ABBY SOUZA

Pay cuts, more unpaid furlough days, early retirement and "technical layoffs" are among cost-trimmimg measures Tuolumne County supervisors will consider at a study session tomorrow.

County Administrator C. Brent Wallace will discuss the options, all means to make up for the loss of up to $3.8 million in vehicle license fee revenues, at the 1:30 p.m. session.

"This has a severe effect on the county's ability to deliver services," Wallace said of the loss.

In his first week in office, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger rolled back the car tax increases aimed at cutting the state's $38 billion budget deficit.

Two weeks ago, he proposed paying the cities and counties their share of the lost money through a "deficiency appropriation."

But a recent report from the state legislative analyst's office said Schwarzenegger might not have the authority to do so without legislative approval.

"It would seem there is more opportunity to debate than take action," said Wallace.

In order to keep the county budget out of the red, Wallace will ask the board to consider several cost-saving recommendations.

One will be to reduce contingency funds the county's rainy day money to $400,000. This would allow $300,000 to be added to the general fund.

Allocating all available money toward the general fund, hiring freezes, reducing spending and two already-approved furlough days will save about $1,285,000. But, there would still be a $886,000 deficit.

To lower that, Wallace has proposed four more options:

Furlough days Supervisors have already directed county employees to take two unpaid days off Dec. 26 and Jan. 16. Three more days would save another $200,000.

Early retirement About 200 employees have received letters asking them to consider this option. More than 50 workers expressed interest at two meetings last week.

Pay cuts Wallace will suggest negotiating with employee bargaining units on salary and benefit reductions.

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The Union Democrat
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