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County analyzes state budget hit
January 25, 2012, 05:00 AM By Michelle Durand Daily Journal Staff

San Mateo County would lose an estimated $5.65 million in funding for its programs and services if the governor’s recently proposed budget gets the green light, with nearly all the money coming from public aid.

Although county officials went to work penciling out the potential losses after Gov. Jerry Brown released his budget proposal Jan. 5, County Manager John Maltbie didn’t offer a full overview of the hits prior to yesterday’s Board of Supervisors meeting. Department heads and elected officials previously worried the cuts would be hard; yesterday’s analysis tried explaining just how far and where.

The proposed budget "frankly is like the current state budget,” said Maltbie, referencing the proposed tax initiative and associated trigger cuts if a measure fails.

The board posed no questions to Maltbie, saying it prefers to table any discussion until next week’s budget workshop on mid-year cuts.

The greatest loss — $5.3 million of the estimated $5.65 total — would come from the Human Services Agency. Plans to reduce CalWORKS funding by $1.1 billion statewide and re-emphasizing the work aspects means a $4.3 million hit directly to clients, according to Maltbie’s summary. Approximately 537 families in San Mateo County would be affected, losing $372 monthly or $4,464 annually, if they don’t meet the federal work requirements and only receive payments for children.

A revised program for families with children in which the parents aren’t eligible for aid means approximately 1,376 families would lose $119 per month. The change equals a $1.9 million loss in direct cash for the county.

The county would also lose $1 million because of reduced CalWORKS cases and be on the hook for an estimated $2 million to find the majority of child welfare services programs. The cost of administering Medi-Cal will cost roughly $4 million if the cost of living adjustment is suspended.

The Health System won’t be immune from the chopping block, with $132,000 possibly up for grabs due to shifts in in-home health support services and care for the elderly and disabled, a reduction in reimbursements for low-income children’s health insurance and a beach monitoring program costing $40,000.

The child support services division is looking at $350,000 gone if the state sends the entire non-federal portion to the state general fund.

The Probation Department might be the biggest winner with $1.38 million in continued funding for realignment needs, supervision and training. The state proposed giving counties funds to begin preparing for its half of taking in juvenile inmates beginning Jan. 1, 2013 and also wants to postpone collecting greater fees for housing existing juvenile wards. The delay means $1.3 million for San Mateo County.

But for all the figures the county does know, there are several that remain up in the air. In particular, $125 million in statewide trigger cuts to the judicial branch is equal to three court closures per month and could reduce security but no actual figures are yet attached. The same goes for $1 million trigger cuts to the Department of Justice. Both hinge on whether voters support the November tax initiative to generate $7 billion for the general fund.

Maltbie also said new affordable housing units in the county are unlikely with the closure of redevelopment agencies and county parks will likely be in greater demand come July when up to 70 state parks are closed. The county’s parks are already at minimum staffing levels to combat local budget woes.


Michelle Durand can be reached by email: michelle@smdailyjournal.com or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 102.


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