County ready to take $1.8 bil­lion bud­get to San Joaquin su­per­vi­sors

Lodi News-Sentinel - - LOCAL/STATE - By Roger Phillips By the num­bers

STOCK­TON — The tidy sum of $1.8 bil­lion sounds like a lot of money, but bil­lions don’t go nearly as far as they once did.

Just ask San Joaquin County of­fi­cials, who will bring the pro­posed 2019-20 fis­cal-year bud­get of just more than $1.8 bil­lion be­fore the Board of Su­per­vi­sors on Tues­day.

The pro­posed bud­get is more than $40.8 mil­lion larger than the 2018-19 fis­cal-year bud­get, which ex­pires June 30. But easy come, easy go.

Three sec­tors in the pro­posed bud­get eat up $1.57 bil­lion, 87.1 per­cent of the $1.8 bil­lion to­tal. The three are health ser­vices ($747.6 mil­lion, 41.5 per­cent), hu­man ser­vices ($443.7 mil­lion, 24.5 per­cent) and law and jus­tice ($379.8 mil­lion, 21.1 per­cent),

At the other end of the spec­trum is parks and re­cre­ation, which ac­counts for $6.4 mil­lion, or four-tenths of 1 per­cent.

Fol­low­ing are some of the high­lights from the bud­get pro­posal:

Cold cases

The San Joaquin County Civil grand jury re­ported at the be­gin­ning of this month that lawen­force­ment agen­cies have too many un­solved in­ves­ti­ga­tions — more than 500 cold case homi­cides.

The bud­get pro­poses to give the Dis­trict At­tor­ney and the Sher­iff’s Of­fice some new help. The Sher­iff’s Of­fice would add two deputies fo­cus­ing on cold cases, and the D.A. would get a deputy dis­trict at­tor­ney who would fo­cus on un­solved in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

County Ad­min­is­tra­tor Mon­ica Nino said the plan­ning for the new po­si­tions pre­dated the re­cent re­lease of the grand jury re­port.

“This was re­spon­sive to the sher­iff and dis­trict at­tor­ney sub­mit­ting re­quests,” Nino said.

Ac­cord­ing to the county: Health in­sur­ance rates in­creased 16 per­cent in 2018-19 and are pro­jected to in­crease by an ad­di­tional 22.8 per­cent in 2019-20 . ... Staffing costs of $918.5 mil­lion will eat up more than half the new bud­get . ... The year-end bud­get for 2018-19 will fin­ish with an es­ti­mated bal­ance of $30.5 mil­lion . ... The county has 656 va­cant po­si­tions, in­clud­ing 108 in the Sher­iff ’s Of­fice, 107 in hu­man ser­vices, 99 in be­hav­ioral health and 91 at San Joaquin Gen­eral Hospi­tal.

A loom­ing is­sue

At the mo­ment, 86 per­cent of the county’s work­force has la­bor agree­ments. But that will drop to 12.5 per­cent in Septem­ber when con­tracts ex­pire with em­ploy­ees rep­re­sented by the Ser­vice Em­ploy­ees In­ter­na­tional Union.

Con­tract ne­go­ti­a­tions have be­gun, but Nino and As­sis­tant County Ad­min­is­tra­tor Jerry Becker would not com­ment on how they are pro­gress­ing.

Here’s some­thing to con­sider: If every em­ployee in the county, not just SEIU em­ploy­ees, was given a 1 per­cent raise, it would cost the county $6 mil­lion.

Asked if the pend­ing SEIU sit­u­a­tion is con­cern­ing, Nino said, “Very much so.”

San Joaquin Gen­eral Hospi­tal

The hospi­tal eats up more than $400 mil­lion all by it­self. So county of­fi­cials say they are work­ing to im­prove their billing and col­lect­ing prac­tices to max­i­mize rev­enues. They also say that when there is an in­evitable eco­nomic down­turn, the hospi­tal will have to suf­fer a por­tion of the cuts.

“We would have to eval­u­ate the types of ser­vices we’re of­fer­ing that aren’t man­dated,” Nino said. “When in­cur­ring the ex­penses the hospi­tal does, it’s so crit­i­cal to have timely billing and re­ceiv­ing of rev­enue.”

Ac­cord­ing to Nino, 750,000-res­i­dent San Joaquin County is the small­est county in the state oper­at­ing its own hospi­tal.

“Struc­turally bal­anced”

Nino said the pro­posed bud­get is “struc­turally bal­anced,” mean­ing that ex­cess funds are not be­ing used for on­go­ing ex­penses but rather for one-time costs or for pad­ding re­serves.

“It’s so crit­i­cal to lo­cal govern­ments right now,” she said.

To­day’s Board of Su­per­vi­sors meet­ing be­gins at 9 a.m. at the County Ad­min­is­tra­tion Build­ing, 44 N. San Joaquin St. in down­town Stock­ton. The bud­get is part of a siz­able list of items on the agenda.

Su­per­vi­sors are ex­pected to cast their fi­nal votes to ap­prove the bud­get on June 25.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.