Archive for the ‘Finance’ Category

Supervisors ramp up sales tax discussion before approving $3.69 billion 2019-20 budget

Monday, May 13th, 2019

The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors presented resolutions of recognition to Scott Walchek, founder NS president of Trov, a Danville-based on-demand insurance company, and to Sylvia Lewis vice president of Sigray Inc., a Pacheco-based X-ray technology company, for both companies being 2019 Innovation Award finalists and winners. Photo by Daniel Borsuk.

By Daniel Borsuk

The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a status-quo $3.69 billion budget for the 2019-2020 fiscal year at Tuesday’s meeting, but supervisors made more noise about the possibility they could be pushed to propose a countywide sales tax measure to cover rising labor and health care costs averaging about 3 percent for 2019-2020.

“We need some type of local tax revenue, but there is nothing under consideration right now,” Board Chair John Gioia of Richmond told the Contra Costa Herald after supervisors approved next fiscal year’s spending plan that attracted several critics of Sheriff-Coroner David Livingston’s $10 million budget increase request over recent charges one deputy had sexually and physically abused female inmates at the West County Detention Facility. That deputy has been dismissed by the sheriff.

When County Administrator David Twa initially presented the 2019-2020 tentative budget at an April 23 meeting, supervisors had sparingly talked around the tax issue idea, but at the May 7 meeting all five supervisors were more outspoken about the potential tax idea.

Citing how Alameda County produces $150 million in annual revenue from its sales tax, Gioia said, “We struggle with less.” In addition to Alameda County, San Mateo and San Francisco counties financially benefit from revenue coming from a sales tax.

“John is absolutely right, “said District 5 Supervisor Federal Glover. “We need another revenue source. We need to continue to grow our resources.”

District 3 Supervisor Diane Burgis hinted she could possibly support a sales tax measure given the current state of the county’s inability to deliver public services while adequately fulfilling the financial and health benefit needs of employees. “We are leveraging our dollars and our employees. We can do better,” Burgis said.

Vice Chair Candace Andersen doubted a countywide sales tax measure would win voter support. “I don’t know how a sales tax measure would get passed by the voters,” the supervisor from Danville said.

Supervisors OK DA Investigators Association Labor Pact

Supervisors unanimously approved a new four-year labor contract with the District Attorney Investigators’ Association. Investigators will earn from $8,293.27 per month to $11,480.60 per month based on seniority. The contract runs from July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2023.

8-Unit Pacheco Townhouse Approved

Without opposition from the public, supervisors unanimously approved developer Andy Akay’s plans to construct an eight-unit townhouse subdivision development at 214 Center Ave. in Pacheco. The three-story development will be constructed on a vacant .49-acre parcel of property. Each unit will have a two-car garage. The two bedroom and three-bedroom units will have living areas of 2,199 square feet to 2,203 square feet each.

Chaplaincy Services Contract Approved

Supervisors also approved as a consent item a Sheriff-Coroner contract with the Bay Area Chaplains, Inc. for an amount not to exceed $162,000. The Bay Area Chaplains will provide chaplaincy services in adult detention facilities from July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020. Services will include providing materials, counseling, bible studies, worship services and responding to crisis and emergencies involving inmates or staff.

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Antioch woman finds “hidden” money in state’s coffers, maybe some is yours

Thursday, April 25th, 2019

Julie Carlson from her Facebook page.

By Allen Payton

Antioch resident Julie Carlson has been on a mission since she discovered there are billions of dollars owed to California residents that the state has been holding on to in various funds. She began doing research and found agency after agency with money in fund balances owed to thousands of individuals.

Michael Finney of ABC7 TV’s did a news report about Carlson’s efforts and it aired Tuesday night, April 23rd.

Part of the problem is the names of individuals and even cities are misspelled in the state’s records and it doesn’t appear anyone is responsible for correcting the mistakes or finding to whom the money is owed.

“The sad thing…is that California’s State Controller told Michael Finney that there was a law that prohibited them from correcting misspelled city names or any other errors found in property records and this is a down right lie. There is no such law that prohibit the State from making corrections to records that were received from another party. Of course, you save an original copy of the record, but once you have done that, you should be free to make any changes that are required in order to make that record reflect truthful or accurate information,” Carlson wrote in a Facebook post about the ABC7 segment.

“This department has been using that same sorry and lazy excuse for years just so they can continue to prevent people from finding money that belongs to them,” she continued. “People need to stand up to our state government and force them to present accurate information to us. It should not matter if a third party misspelled a city name, California should correct the spelling and be done with it!!! The state is preventing 1.6 million property records valued at over $365 million dollars from showing up in search results simply because the person’s property record contains a misspelled city name.”

“There are plenty of other more complex errors found throughout millions of their property records, at least, fixing a misspelled city name would be fairly easy to fix,” Carlson added.

If you or someone you know needs help finding property, send an email to HiddenMoney@att.net.

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Supervisors review proposed $3.7 billion budget, discuss potential new tax

Thursday, April 18th, 2019

By Daniel Borsuk

The Contra Costa County Supervisors were presented Tuesday a proposed $3.69 billion budget for fiscal year 2019-2020 that sparked dialogue among supervisors of potentially developing a new tax source in order to support the county’s growing service needs, especially in the areas of health, medical, employment and human services.

The proposed 2019-2020 budget consists of $1.7 billion in county imposed general fund revenue that is approximately the same level of local tax revenue budgeted for the current 2018-2019 fiscal year. State and federal funds make up the other $2 billion in budget revenue.

Supervisors voted 4-0 to instruct county administrator David Twa to present the budget for adoption at its May 7 meeting. Vice chair Candace Andersen of Danville was absent at the time of the vote.

“After several years of relative stability, we now enter a period of needing to adjust our county budget to meet challenges due to uncertainties to countywide revenue streams (especially in the Health Services and the Employment & Human Services departments), compounded by sharply rising wage and benefit costs,” County Administrator Twa wrote in his 2019-2020 budget presentation. CCCo Budget Presentation 19-20 Draft

In the 2019-2020 fiscal year county officials plan to wrap up labor negotiations with the Physicians and Dentists Organization that represents workers in the Health and Human Services and at Contra Costa Regional Medical Center and Clinics, the District Attorney Investigators Association, the Deputy Services Association and the In-Home Supportive Services Association.

Even in a good economy, Contra Costa County employees find themselves underpaid on average 5 percent to 8 percent of what their counterparts earn at similar jobs in the Bay Area. Supervisors listened to a number of speakers representing the county’s health care system, Contra Costa CARES, that the county needs to boost salaries of its healthcare workers 8 percent if it expects to retain employees.

For next fiscal year, county medical director Anna Roth proposed that the supervisors approve a 3 percent cost of living adjustment, designate $135 million in county general funds, count on $1.6 billion in revenues, but expect expenses of $1.8 billion. The department plans to expand the West County Behavioral Health Center next year, she said.

“We’ve got some work to do,” said District 4 Supervisor Karen Mitchoff of Pleasant Hill upon noticing a projected a combined general fund deficit from health services and human services of at least $30 million.

Noting how other Bay Area counties like San Francisco, Alameda, and San Mateo can adequately pay county workers because of additional tax revenues streaming in from property and sales tax sources, board chair John Gioia of Richmond said, “Other counties have robust tax revenue resources. We don’t have that.”

“You say we need more money,” said District 5 Supervisor Federal Glover of Pittsburg. “We have to be creative.”

Employment and Human Services Director Kathy Gallagher said to balance her department’s budget for 2019-2020 she will have to eliminate 67 positions. For next fiscal year, EHS will have 1,904 fulltime positions in order to operate its diverse operations such as Adult Protection Services that has undergone some criticism for alleged financial abuse of its clients.

Sheriff-Coroner David Livingston has proposed a $7 million increase for salaries and benefits for his 685 sworn officers and 350 non-sworn personnel. For next fiscal year, the sheriff plans to hire three additional sworn officers. Planning for a proposed 128 bed mental health facility for the West County Detention Center in Richmond is back on track after being sidelined for rising construction costs, mostly related to steel tariffs.

With $44 million proposed for the District Attorney’s Office, District Attorney Diana Becton plans to increase staffing in the human trafficking unit by $1 million. The DA Office has 222.5 positions on the payroll of which 102 are attorneys, 33 are investigators, 17 are victim/witness experts, and 70.5 are administrative support.

A $3.7 million project at Buchanan Air Field is one of the big tasks on drawing boards for the Public Works Department next fiscal year, department director Brian Balbas said, but the biggest challenge is retaining staff. With a $254 million budget and 545 employees, Balbas said his department is hampered by a high turnover rate of more than 20 percent when workers find better paying jobs at other counties or in the private sector. “The focus for 2019/2020 will be in recruitment and retention,” he told supervisors.

Public Defender Robin Lipesky said in addition to handling 6,900 misdemeanor cases, 3,747 felony cases, and 450 bail hearings, her department handled 600 Stand Together Contra Costa legal consultations, a new duty of her department. Citing a decline in the county’s juvenile population and a decline in the juvenile hall population, the department plans to cut 22 juvenile justice positions, she said.

Supervisors Salary Ordinance Approved

On a 3-2 vote, with supervisors Candace Andersen of Danville and Diane Burgis of Brentwood casting the dissenting votes, supervisors approved an ordinance that will raise their salaries at an established percentage, 65 percent of the annual salary of the Office of Superior Court Judge, effective January 1, 2021.

Effective June 30, each supervisor will earn a monthly base salary of $9,736.75, equivalent to an annual salary of $116,841.

From July 1, 2019 through Dec. 31, 2019 supervisors will each earn an annual salary equal to 60 percent of the annual salary for the Office of Superior Court Judge as prescribed by the state legislature. Supervisors will receive another salary boost effective January 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020 at a base of 63 percent of a Contra Costa County Superior Court Judge. A third and final salary hike equal to 65 percent of the annual salary for the Office of Superior Court Judge in Contra Costa County would go into effect after January 1, 2021.

In addition to the pay increases, each supervisor will receive reimbursement for “reasonable expenses incurred in the conduct of such office” and “eligibility for an eighty-five-dollar monthly contribution to the county’s deferred compensation plan in the same manner as other exempt management employees.”

Each supervisor will also receive an automobile allowance of $600 per month and, in addition to the automobile allowance, mileage at the rate per mile allowed by the Internal Revenue Service as a deductible expense, for all miles driven by the supervisor on county business outside that supervisor’s district.

Supervisors OK Revised WCCTAC Transit Mitigation Fee

In other business, supervisors unanimously approved revised property transportation mitigation fees developers in unincorporated parts of the West Contra Costa Transportation Advisory Committee area of El Cerrito, Hercules, Pinole, Richmond, and San Pablo that have been in place since 1997.

No one spoke either in favor of or in protest against the fees that are assessed to go towards construction of transportation projects.

Since the inception of the WCCTAC transit mitigation fees in 1997, $11.6 million has been raised to help alleviate transportation impacts from residential, commercial or industrial development, said John Cunningham of the Contra Costa County Conservation and Development Department.

Revenues from the transit mitigation fee cover 19 percent of the construction costs of transit projects in the WCCTAC area. Some of those projects include $9,672 towards a $50,903 San Pablo Avenue complete streets project, $156 for the I-580/Harbour Way Interchange pedestrian and bicycle access improvements, $10,175 for the Hercules Regional Intermodal Transportation Center, and $20,749 for capital improvements to the I-80 Express Bus Service.

Accessory dwelling units are exempt from the revised transit mitigation fees that will go into effect July 1, 2020 and will increase or decrease every July 1 thereafter based by the annual percentage change in the Engineering News Record Construction Cost Index for the San Francisco Bay Area for the 12 month period ending with the February index of the same year in which the increase or decrease will take effect

The new WCCTAC transit mitigation fees are multi-family residential, $5,439 per dwelling unit; senior housing, $1,469 per dwelling unit; hotel, $3,481 per hotel unit; retail/service, $6.59 per square foot; office, $8.12 per square foot; industrial, $5.56 per square foot; storage facility, 0.76 per square foot; and other, $7 per square foot.

Red Cross Community Services Award Recipients

As a consent items, supervisors adopted resolutions honoring Bryan Canty of Antioch as recipient of the 2019 Red Cross Good Samaritan Award, Samantha Barhouse, also of Antioch, as recipient of the 2019 Red Cross Disaster Service Award, and the San Damiano Retreat Center of Danville, as the recipient of the 2019 Red Cross Community Service Award.

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Teen Education Day at Wells Fargo Bank in Antioch Saturday, Jan. 19

Thursday, January 17th, 2019

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DeSaulnier recognizes credit unions for offering interest-free loans to furloughed federal workers

Thursday, January 10th, 2019

Hopes other financial institutions will follow suit during government shutdown

Rep. Mark DeSaulnier

Washington, DC – Today, Thursday, January 10, 2019, on the eve of over 800,000 federal workers missing their regularly scheduled paychecks due to the government shutdown, Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11) sent a letter to the Consumer Bankers Association, the Credit Union National Association, and the Mortgage Bankers Association recognizing credit unions for offering interest-free loans to federal workers. The letter also highlights DeSaulnier’s hope that other financial institutions will follow suit.

“Several credit unions across the country have begun offering interest-free loans to impacted federal workers. I applaud these organizations for prioritizing customer well-being and am certain that this will be of great assistance to countless workers and families,” wrote DeSaulnier.

If the government shutdown continues into tomorrow, January 11th, over 800,000 federal workers will miss their scheduled paychecks, and the impact will be felt across the country. Eighty-five percent of the federal workforce resides outside of the District of Columbia. For instance, in California over 37,000 federal workers and their families will miss a paycheck.

“There are opportunities to prevent potentially catastrophic consequences for millions of Americans through cooperation and compassion. I will continue to work in Congress to re-open the government and ensure public employees and contractors are paid, and I appreciate those companies that are stepping up to help during this difficult time,” DeSaulnier continued.

Full text of the letters can be found here.

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Antioch Council approves desal plant labor agreement, $51 million Capital Improvement Program

Friday, June 15th, 2018

Considers giving City Manager $20,000 pay raise

By Alexandra Riva

The Antioch City Council met on Tuesday, June 12 to discuss items on their agenda including adoption of the five-year Capital Improvement Program, a Project Stability Agreement in accordance with the Brackish Water Desalination Plant – Labor Study, and amendments to City Manager Ron Bernal’s employment agreement.

These issues were of particular interest to those in attendance and received equal amounts of debate and consideration from members of the public and City Council alike.

City Manager Pay Raise

Mayor Pro Tem Lamar Thorpe made a motion to bring the discussion of the City Manager’s employment agreement to the start of the meeting. After having met in a closed session earlier in the day to discuss the matter, the City Council met in an open session in the hopes of coming to a decision that, if Mayor Wright signs the agreement, would increase Bernal’s pay by $20,000.

One public comment was made on this issue, from Marty Fernandez, in opposition to the increase in pay.

“Mayor and City Council, I just want to ask a question,” he said. “Do you know that there are people, working people, in this town that don’t make twenty thousand dollars a year? I just don’t care how much city managers are making in other cities or anything else. If somebody jumps off the bridge, are you going to jump off the bridge too? Thank you.”

Thorpe then made a motion that would move the discussion of the agenda item back to closed session, which was voted on and approved by all five members of the City Council.

$51 Million Capital Improvement Plan

The City Council then discussed the proposed adoption of a $51 million five-year capital improvement program, lasting from 2018 to 2023. The adoption of this program would amend the operating budget slightly from what was previously discussed for improvements to roads, traffic signals and sidewalks, the water system, sewer system, and storm drains, as well as parks, marina and Amtrak Station improvements.

The improvements also include a new restroom at the Boat Launch facility at the end of L Street. The CIP also includes $1.0 million for the renovations to the Council Chambers in addition to the $400,000 in the current fiscal year budget.

Projects, like the Contra Loma basketball courts, would be made their own project instead of being part of the generic park fund. Additionally, an action plan regarding L Street would be created, and the $25,000 that would roll over from this year’s budget would be used to help better handle these situations and projects.

There were no public comments on the matter, and a motion was made by Council Member Lori Ogorchock to adopt the changes to the CIP. The vote was unanimous, and the CIP was approved. 2018-23 Antioch Capital Improvement Program

Desalination Plant Project Stability Agreement

The possible authorization of a Project Stability Agreement (PSA) in accordance with the Brackish Water Desalination Plant – Labor Study was of major interest at the meeting. The purpose of this study was to determine whether or not a PSA would help the project reach completion and help to aide labor efficiency and employment. Desal Plant Labor Stability Agreement

More than ten members of the public came out to voice their opinions on the matter. Many of the comments were positive, calling for the authorization of a PSA for this project and making note of the benefits that would come from this decision.

Bill Whitney, the CEO of Contra Costa Building Trades, came to show his support for the adoption of a PSA.

“If you have a PSA, we are going to need more apprentices, that just the way it works. And we go out and we look to hire people from the community, such as Antioch residents. PSAs, by law, so they have been through the court system, have been declared that they are non-discriminatory. Someone may come up and tell you it’s discriminatory, that’s not true,” said Whitney.

Local hiring and an increase in diversity among hires, including more women in these programs and helping veterans find jobs, were among the positives cited not only by Whitney, but by many in support of the PSA.

Among the dissenting views was Joseph Lubas, a longtime resident of Contra Costa County.

“I flat out oppose the project stabilization agreement…they have consistently shown that they are wastes of tax payer dollars, results in bids being rejected, and, yes, just reject this PSA,” said Lubas.

Despite the comments from those in opposition, which brought up concerns similar to those made by Lubas, the PSA was seen favorably by the members of the City Council.

After public comments ended, Council Member Tony Tiscareno said, “There’s a lot of good things that I see…I’m going to let my councilmen speak, but I am ready to make a motion to pass this thing.”

Further, in regard to the adoption of the PSA, Thorpe remarked that it was not rocket science, it’s the right thing to do.

In a 5-0 vote, the City Council chose to support the adoption of a PSA for the Brackish Water Desalination Plant.

Other Matters

Other agenda items discussed and resolved in the meeting include, the approval of a grant of $20,000 for Celebrate Antioch for community events including the July 4th Celebration and Holiday DeLites. Council Member Monica Wilson abstained from voting on this matter.

The City Council discussed a new voting Delegate and Alternate Delegate for the League of California Cities’ Annual Conference. It resulted in the appointment of Ogorchock as the Delegate, Wilson as the Alternate Delegate, and Thorpe as the second Alternate Delegate, in a unanimous vote.

In a 4-1 vote, the City Council decided on appointments of Ogorchock and Tiscareno to serve on the City Attorney Ad Hoc Recruitment Committee. Thorpe voted no.

The extension of the expiration date of the Quality of Life Ad Hoc Committee, which is comprised of Thorpe and Wilson, to December 31, 2018, was approved in a unanimous vote.

To view the complete meeting agenda, click here. To watch the council meeting on the City’s website, click here.

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Antioch School District 2018-19 budget decreases again, this year by $4.2 million

Thursday, June 14th, 2018

Board discusses LCAP, LCFF; support staff contract approved

By Robert Pierce

At the June 13, 2018 Antioch School Board meeting all five trustees discussed the draft Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) and preliminary budget for the 2018-2019 school year. They also approved the tentative collective bargaining agreement between the district and California School Employees Association for non-teaching support staff, and several new district policy items that were voted on as a group. Summary of Tentative Agreement CSEA

The meeting began with official congratulations to the recent high school graduates, and a happy birthday message by the rest of the board to trustee Walter Ruehlig.

There was a single comment from the public by Mary Rocha, who is planning on running for the board in November’s election. She urged the board to reconsider their decision and “if nothing else, slow down” the development of two new charter schools, which the board authorized last month. Rocha cited concerns with budget and documentation as reasons to reconsider.

“I ask you to reconsider, because, in the end, we are going to be affecting our own school system and our own employees,” Rocha said.

Back on the main agenda, district reports were given on both the LCAP and the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) by Dr. Jason Murphy. 2018-2019 LCAP District Report

According to the official district website, “The Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) is a California funding calculation that recognizes that students with additional academic needs – low-income, English language learner, and foster youth students – need additional financial resources to support their education.”

The district LCAP website

The LCFF provides a per-pupil “base grant”, a “supplemental grant” for every student in one of the target areas and a flat “concentration grant” for districts with more than 55% of their students in one of those three groups. The LCAP, in turn, is a “planning tool” in which the district uses to report how they are going to use that funding, as well as the effectiveness of the programs and services the funding was used on.

Specifically, the LCAP, which AUSD has received funding from since the 2013-2014 school year, has local districts tie their budgets to concrete improvement goals. AUSD’s LCAP for this year currently has six LCAP goals, which according to Murphy were designed to mirror both state priorities and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and include goals such as “Provide effective and enriching learning environments,” “Build inclusive school communities” and “Reduce the achievement gap amongst student groups.”

Murphy brought with him several students and parents from district high schools to comment on their involvement with the process of developing an LCAP. All of them spoke highly of their experiences with the program and expressed a desire for greater student and community member involvement, even at the middle school level.

Trustee Debra Vinson asked how the efficacy of a program is tracked, specifically programs dealing with behavioral justice, and mentioned the district’s current struggles with high suspension, expulsion and absenteeism despite heavy investment in programs such as “Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports”. Vinson also asked how it is determined when and if a program needs to be dropped entirely.

Murphy responded that there is an on-going process of in-depth analysis of each program and service associated with LCAP, a big part of which involves getting community feedback and perspectives from students and parents, and using this data to help shape LCAP goals, mentioning specifically that they are actively working on using grant money to bring in more mental health professionals.

Murphy also explained that they have a vetting process for any vendor they choose to do business with, but for vendors who already passed the vetting and have a contract but are underperforming, information and data on the programs and services that vendor provides are available on the district website so that any staff member or community member can see how well they are working and use the data to have “critical conversations.” For Murphy, getting the LCAP data online, publicly available, was a major goal.

“We thought our theory of action would necessitate that we develop a process that includes all stakeholders,” he stated. “Available on the district website… is the list of all of our stakeholder engagement opportunities.”

Murphy said he strove for more engagement with stakeholders “whether they are students, parents, staff members or even community members” so that they can collaborate directly with the district to improve LCAP goals and processes. Another stated reason for online engagement was so that community members could interact with LCAP even if they were unable to physically attend meetings on it.

Vinson also specifically asked about the potential creation of a Restorative Justice program and a school site Climate Team to tackle issues regarding bullying and student emotional trauma that affect student attendance and classroom behavior; Associate Superintendent Christine Ibarra responded that she currently has a team looking into that issue and considering multiple solutions to it including Restorative Justice.

Ultimately Ruehlig reflected that it was a lot of information to digest, and trustee Diane Gibson-Gray encouraged parents and students to reach out with their ideas.

District reports were also given on the 2018-2019 preliminary budget by several staff, chiefly Associate Superintendent Teresa Santamaria.

Santamaria highlighted that the full implementation of LCFF, the elimination of gap funding, rising expenditures and a potential recession are creating “a huge squeeze for local education authorities.” While revenue assumptions per grade level based off of ADA grants rose about $200, drastic shifts in both federal and local revenue sources as well as rising salary and benefit costs for many employees created said squeeze.

Despite all of that, however, the district only lost $4.2 million this school year compared to a loss of $9.9 million last year, and the district will remain in the black this year as well.

“Looking at this number, we can definitely say the budget year 18-19 will be positive,” Santamaria stated. However, she explained that in the long term, due to revenue losses and expenditure increases as well as the opening of new charter schools in the area, “there will be a huge impact on our fund balance.”

The full preliminary budget

Santamaria declared that the full budget will be presented at the June 27 meeting and will include more in-depth discussion of “the major components of the budget” as well as “multi-year budget projections” with true budget balance being a huge goal for the future.

In addition to district reports, there were public hearings for both the LCAP and the preliminary budget, despite the public having already had chance to comment; Board President Gary Hack observed that it was a “silly” situation but, required by law. Predictably, both public hearings ended without any comment.

No votes were taken for either item during the meeting. The final adoption is expected to occur at the board’s meeting on June 27.

Employees Association Contract Approved

“Disclosure and Ratification of the Tentative Agreement Between Antioch Unified School District and California School Employees Association for 2017-2018,” was passed 5-0 with little to no discussion by the board, merely accepting the result of a collective bargaining agreement already settled by the district required by law to be publicly disclosed before final confirmation. The settlement included extra pay and benefits and a definitive workweek of five consecutive days Monday through Friday for most employees. The district also commended both sides of the negotiation. The full settlement, ratified 5-0

To view the complete meeting, visit the District’s YouTube Channel.

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Contra Costa Supervisors examine $3.5 billion 2018-19 budget

Thursday, April 19th, 2018

In era of federal funding uncertainty

By Daniel Borsuk

Contra Costa County Supervisors are poised to approve on May 8 a $3.5 billion 2018-19 budget realizing that during the upcoming budget year there is the likelihood significant funding cuts out of Washington might especially hit human services programs.

“The current administration in Washington is likely to reduce funding to states and counties,” county administrator David Twa warned supervisors at Tuesday’s board budget hearing.

Even with that caution, supervisors did not blink an eye and proceeded to listen to six budget presentations from department chiefs about what is in store for the upcoming 2018-2019 fiscal year.  Supervisors did not comment about the prospects of federal or state cuts next fiscal year at the hearing, but neither did any of the meager number of persons who showed up to speak about the proposed 2018-19 spending plan.

The Employment & Human Services Department is subject to perhaps the most significant funding cuts from Washington, EHSD Director Kathy Gallagher told supervisors.  Since 2017, funding for the department’s CalFresh and CalWorks programs that deliver food and job training for 65,000 residents has had federal funding trimmed from $101.5 million in 2016 to $90.4 million to 2018.  More cuts are expected for the two programs in the upcoming 2018-19 fiscal year, she said.

Gallagher painted a bleak federal funding fiscal picture showing a watch list of human service programs that could potentially be hit with steep federal funding cuts.  Some of those programs include Medicaid, Community Service Block Grants, Child Welfare Services, and the Older American Act, which includes Meals on Wheels.

Federal funding uncertainty also hovers over County Health Services, but not as severely as what EHSD faces, Contra Costa County Health Director Anna M. Roth told supervisors, in presenting her department’s proposed $1.8 billion budget for 2018-19.  Next year’s budget includes $100 million in general funds.

Roth noted that expansion of the Contra Costa Health Plan with more than 200,000 members provides the county financial support, especially when there is financial uncertainty coming out of Washington.

Addressing only the $241,271,160 in general funds proposed for 2018-19, Contra Costa Undersheriff Michael Casten, who filled in for Sheriff David O. Livingston who was out of town, said a $5.6 million vacancy factor makes it “a very difficult for the Office of the Sheriff-Coroner to operate”.

Casten said the funding deficit means for 2018019 the Sheriff-Coroner will not fill 10 deputy sheriff slots worth $2.6 million, three mental health evaluation team deputies openings worth a combined $781,000, 7 patrol deputies worth $1.82 million and six sergeants worth $1.77 million.  The Sheriff-Coroner’s request for 15 recruit positions valued at $1.21 million was approved for the upcoming fiscal year.

For Diana Becton, the Interim Contra Costa County District Attorney appointed by the board of supervisors last year who is up for election June 5, budget priorities for 2018-19 include enforcement of Proposition 64 (2016 voter approval for the legalization of the sale of marijuana in California), hiring of additional clerical staff, the implementation of a case management system and pay parity.

For 2018-19, Becton wants to add 14 full-time staff worth $1 million.  Those positions include five mainline prosecution assistant district attorneys, five mainline prosecution clerks, two senior inspectors and one forensic accountant.

District attorney Becton wants to also distribute resources for bail reform, the East County Anti-Violence Coalition, the West County Anti-Violence Coalition, the Safe Streets Task Force and anti-truancy initiatives.

Public Defender Robin Lipetzky plans to hire 8 staff members to her department next fiscal year.  She plans to hire two attorneys, one investigator, pretrial attorneys, and clerical staff.  A new juvenile office in Walnut Creek will open in the next month, she informed supervisors.  Last year the public defender handled 501 juvenile cases.  Her department last year also handled 3,545 felony cases.

For 2018-19, Contra Costa Public Works will be busy filling 15 positions, Brian Balbas, Public Works Director said.  The department will need the additional staff as Balbas needs more staff to oversee a big increase in capital improvement projects, including the construction of a new $110 million county administration building and emergency communication center.

New West County Health Center Expansion Project Approved

On a consent item, supervisors awarded a $12.45 million design-build contract to C. Overaa & Co. for the design and construction of the West County Health Center Expansion Project at 13585 San Pablo Ave., in San Pablo.

When the project is completed, the new two-story, 20,000 square foot building will house the Behavioral Health Department, which will be relocated from a leased building.  The new building will qualify for a LEED Silver rating from the Green Building Council.

Other construction firms competing for the design-build contract were Vila Construction and Boldt Co.

College District – Sheriff-Coroner Contract OK’d

Supervisors also approved the $497,250 contract between the Sheriff-Coroner and Contra Costa Community College District to provide educational course construction at the Law Enforcement Training Center at Los Medanos College for the period July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2019.

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