Monday, June 04, 2007

County Plans To Spend Big In New Fiscal Year

County Plans To Spend Big In New Fiscal Year
By Reporter Staff

Solano County's budget would grow to $990.5 million for fiscal year 2007-08, the largest in county history.

Included is money for expanding the county's jail, building a new county health building in Vallejo and hiring 22 more sheriff's deputies under a proposal to be considered later this month by county supervisors.

The proposed budget was released late Friday by County Administrator Michael Johnson, who described it as a healthy, fiscally prudent financial plan.

The Board of Supervisors will begin deliberating on the budget at 9 a.m. Monday, June 25.

"The proposed budget reflects Solano County's excellent fiscal condition," Johnson said in a press release announcing the document. "It allows for moderate growth in county programs, consistent with the existing budget policies and the county's strategic plan, while exercising prudence and sound fiscal judgment. In addition, we are able to invest in some capital projects that will benefit the county greatly in the future and to establish additional reserves to protect against today's outstanding unfunded liabilities."

The proposed budget reflects an increase of $112.7 million, or 13 percent, over the fiscal year 2006-07 final budget.

Among the significant changes in the proposed budget are:

• $54 million to expand the Claybank Adult Detention Facility by 512 beds;

• $13.1 million for new Health & Social Services projects, including a new building and a remodeled facility in Vallejo, a new clinic and lab building in Fairfield, and the William J. Carroll Government Center Building in Vacaville;

• $12.9 million in increased spending on Health & Social Services programs, including an additional $2.1 million for mental health programs and $950,000 for transitional housing for teens aging out of the foster-care system;

• $10 million to the Deferred Capital/Maintenance Projects designation account;

• $9.7 million increase in refinancing the Government Center Debt, a move that will save the taxpayers $1.37 million annually in finance charges;

• $8.3 million increase to the Public Safety Fund, which reflects the addition of 22 law enforcement personnel and expanded jail operations;

• $4 million to remodel the old County Library on Texas Street into a conference center and to renovate the exterior walls of the Law and Justice Building on Union Avenue;

• $2.3 million contribution to fully fund the Accrued Leave Payoff Reserve designation account; and

• $1 million for the State Presidential Primary election that was moved to February 2008.

While the growth seems like a positive change, Johnson did issue a word of caution, noting that decisions at the state level could impact the local budget, particularly in the areas of health insurance, prison reform, election funding and Williamson Act reimbursements. His proposed budget sets aside $10 million to compensate for these uncertainties.

"Until everything shakes out of the state and federal budget processes, we don't know the impact," Johnson said.

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