Local governments prepared for governor’s scalpel
Nevada County government officials said they were prepared for the governor’s plan to cut $2.6 billion from local governments in the next two years.
Area school districts were also anticipating the $2 billion cuts to California schools, but Sierra College district officials said they were “pleasantly surprised” by increases that were revealed in this week’s much-anticipated release of the proposed state budget.
County Chief Fiscal Officer Joe Christoffel called the shift of money from local governments “a significant impact,” but added the county was not surprised.
“It is what we anticipated in the proposal and is right in line with the county budget,” Christoffel said. He said the only difference is a proposed amendment that will protect local governments from similar “borrowing” in the future.
The county’s budget for the 2004-05 year is not making residents pay for the $2.6 billion with increased taxes. Instead, county officials have reduced the number of county employees over the past two years by 8 percent. Two years ago, the county cut 37 positions, and this year, 48 positions were cut, Christoffel said.
There were no surprises for the school districts, either.
Pleasant Ridge Elementary School District Superintendent Jim Meshwert said while they have not seen the details of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposed budget, school officials accounted for cuts by trimming $500,000 in services this year.
“I think the budget is a positive step forward; it could have been a lot worse,” Meshwert said.
Community colleges made out well in the proposed budget and will have more money to put toward growth and increasing enrollment. The state wanted to lessen the load on the University of California and California State University systems by promoting enrollment at community colleges, said Sierra College Nevada County Campus provost Tina Ludutsky-Taylor.
Ludutsky-Taylor said the community colleges were hit hard two years ago when Sierra College was forced to cut $2 million from its budget mid-year. This year, Sierra College took the most conservative approach when district officials finalized their budget in June in preparation of the worst.
“It will be a pleasant surprise if (Schwarzenegger’s) proposal remains intact,” Ludutsky-Taylor said.
The budget proposal will now go to the state legislature and must receive a two-thirds approval from representatives.
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