Prop. 1A offers county some protection from a raid by state
Nevada County’s public financial security is somewhat protected from state budget machinations, but county officials said Tuesday they will have to be prudent and ready for whatever Sacramento throws at them in the years ahead.
“One thing that has us protected is Prop. 1A,” said Rick Haffey, the county’s chief executive officer. “It has protected our local property taxes since January 2005, but I never underestimate the ability of the state to get local revenues.”
The proposition and deals between Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and counties have brought fewer raids on California county coffers in recent years. But in the 1990s and early part of this decade, it was routine as the state struggled to balance budgets.
“The state picture could always impact us in things like human services and health services that are not in the general fund,” Haffey said. “They are not protected if the state hasn’t got its house in order.”
“There’s a caveat to that because many of those funds are federal that are passing through the state,” said Joe Christoffel, the county’s deputy executive officer in charge of finances.
Prop. 1A allows the state to borrow money from city and county governments “but now it’s debt – they just can’t take it,” Christoffel said.
To keep Nevada County fiscally sound, “We won’t ramp up programs we don’t have the revenues for,” Haffey said. “We have to identify the revenues first and the state hasn’t done that” for its new programs.
“That’s the paramount,” Christoffel said. “If you look at the news, county X, Y and Z has to lay off or cut programs because of fiscal emergencies because they ramped up programs and did it without considering their fiscal sustainability.”
Earlier this year, the county agreed to raise salaries of its rank-and-file workers, as well as its leadership, but said it could afford the increases.
Every time Nevada County considers a new program or more staff these days, “We ask how long it is sustainable, and it has to be a predictable period,” Christoffel said.
To contact Senior Staff Writer Dave Moller, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 477-4237.
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