Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Contra Costa concerned over state budget issues

If the state decides to further defer payments to California counties, Contra Costa's programs and services would be jeopardized, according to the county administrator.

Contra Costa supervisors have cut more than $90 million from the county budget since May, so the governor's proposal of delaying payments by as long as seven months — resulting in a $3.5 billion deferment for the state's 58 counties — could be devastating, David Twa said.

"Payments from the state have not stopped yet, but we are very concerned," Twa wrote in an e-mail. "Given the cuts we have made to date ... it would be very difficult for us to continue programs with our limited reserves."

Unless a state budget decision occurs "very quickly," Twa says the county will probably have to cover about $9.6 million in costs to the health and human services department, which is predominantly state funded. In the worst case, the county could cover through March.

"There's no way we could cover for several months," Twa said.

The state has imposed a 30-day delay, which the state controller says will affect refunds to taxpayers, money for college tuition-assistance programs and payments to state vendors starting Feb. 1. Some counties have authorized lawsuits and others have imposed 30-day delays in sending taxes and fees they collect to the state.

"We have not yet had an opportunity to study the issue of suing the state, nor have we had (a) discussion with Advertisementthe (supervisors)," Twa wrote. "It is probably premature until we find out what action the state formally takes to deal with their budget woes."

  • Wet harvest adds to cattle farmers’ woes
  • Contra Costa becomes first county to vote against joining Prop. 8 lawsuit
  • Local organizations, agencies rally against budget cuts
  • County considers in-custody drug treatment program for parolees