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Budget Challenges Lie Ahead for County of San Bernardino

Whooping Cough (Pertussis)

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Main Office:
385 N Arrowhead Avenue
San Bernardino, CA 92415
909-387-4866


Chino Hills District Office:
14010 City Center Drive
Chino Hills, CA 91709
909-465-1895


Staff Members:
Larry Enriquez,
Chief of Staff

Joy Chadwick,
Deputy Chief of Staff

Brian Johsz,
District Director

Annette Taylor,
Executive Secretary

Naseem U. Farooqi,
Analyst

Burt Southard,
Media Relations

Roman Nava,
Small Business Liason

Grace Hagman,
Field Representative

Jeanna Pomierski,
Field Representative
August 2010

Budget Challenges Lie Ahead for County of San Bernardino


Click the following link to view Supervisor Ovitt's Video:
http://www.sbcounty.gov/bosd4/multimedia/ViewVideo.aspx?vid=181

On June 28, the Board of Supervisors approved a balanced budget for the fiscal year that began on July 1. With the help of employee-approved salary deferrals, the use of reserves to create ongoing funding, and departmental budget reductions, the board was able to close an $89.4 million shortfall. The new budget eliminates 529 county positions, 85 of them currently filled.

As difficult as it might have been to balance this year's budget, even greater fiscal challenges lie ahead. Due to a continuing decline in property tax revenues as well as increased costs, $133 million in deficits are projected for the next four years, including a $48 million deficit for the fiscal year that begins less than 12 short months from now.

A significant portion of this shortfall is due to increasing retirement costs. The county's annual contribution to the retirement system rose by $6 million this year. By 2014, the annual local cost contribution will increase by close to $90 million – more than this year's total budget shortfall. By 2013, fully staffing the Adelanto Jail Expansion will require $34.2 million in new funding. Finally, current labor contracts create more costs, funding for which the county simply doesn't have.

The new county budget does not take into account the unknown impacts the state budget may eventually have on counties, nor does it address several large-scale unfunded liabilities, including a $215 million public safety communications system, $154 million in accumulated leave time, a $113 million public safety operations center, road and facility maintenance at adequate levels, and helicopter and fire engine replacement, just to name a few.

In light of some information submitted to the news media as the county's budget was taking shape, it is important to point out that the county took many steps to save and cut back in addition to asking employees to defer scheduled pay increases.

First, in October 2007, the county imposed a hiring freeze that resulted in 1,245 unfilled positions being cut from the budget, saving $108 million. The county also created a Retirement Incentive Program to encourage top-of-the-pay-scale employees to retire early. This created 300 additional vacant positions that were cut from the budget, saving an additional $26 million.

Board of Supervisors staff members, county administrators, department heads and secretaries gave up their scheduled pay increases for the second year in a row, saving $5.4 million. It's also important to note that salaries for the Board of Supervisors are set by a formula established by the voters, and last year that formula resulted in a 1.5 percent pay cut for supervisors.

The county has aggressively sought other ways to save money and cut spending, as well. For example, the Board of Supervisors, the members of which each serve more than 400,000 county residents, cut $2.5 million from its budget for the new fiscal year. This resulted in some board staff members losing their jobs and others moving to other positions in the county.

Prior to the current budget, the county made cuts and achieved savings totaling more than $51.5 million.

It has been pointed out that county spending increased when tax dollars were more plentiful. It has also been suggested that these resources could have been used more wisely to prepare for the recession. What needs to be clear is spending increased primarily to meet the needs of the county's growing population. The bulk of additional investment occurred in the area of public safety, with programs launched to add patrol deputies to the unincorporated areas and contract cities, protect law enforcement officers by installing bullet-proof Kevlar in doors of their patrol units, arming them with non-lethal taser devices, setting aside $25 million for a new crime lab, and investing $50 million in jail expansion.

The county also set aside significant sums of money into reserves and contingencies. Contingency funds have helped the county avoid some cuts during this recession, and reserves have prepared the county to serve the demands of future growth while earning the county top credit ratings, which allow the county to borrow money at the lowest possible rates. The county was also able to use $38 million in reserves to pay down debt and create $5 million in additional ongoing funding.

The balancing of this year’s budget was a monumental task that required sacrifices by departments and employees. Many more sacrifices lie ahead in the effort to make our county fiscally healthy and weather the ongoing recession.

Whooping Cough (Pertussis)

Pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough, is now an epidemic in California. To date, about 1,500 people in California have become infected with pertussis – a five-fold increase from the same time last year. Five infants, all under the age of three months old, have died from the disease including one in San Bernardino County.

State health professionals strongly urge elderly adults, children and pregnant women to get vaccinated. Children should be vaccinated against the disease and parents, family members and caregivers of infants need a booster shot.

Pertussis is a very contagious disease. It is spread from person-to-person by coughing or sneezing while in close contact with others. The disease starts like a common cold, but after 1-2 weeks, severe coughing begins. It can cause serious illness in people of all ages, but infants under 6 months of age are most at risk because they are too young to be fully vaccinated. More than half of infants less than 1 year of age who get the disease must be hospitalized. In rare cases, it can cause death.

Many infants are infected by parents, older siblings or other caregivers who might not even know they have the disease. That is why adults who have direct contact with infants less than 12 months of age are urged to get vaccinated against pertussis. Neither childhood vaccination nor illness from pertussis provides lifetime protection against this disease.

Pregnant women may be vaccinated against pertussis after 12 weeks gestation, or after giving birth. It's best for fathers to be vaccinated before the birth of their baby. The booster vaccine for adolescents and adults is called "Tdap." It is a safe and effective vaccine that protects against three diseases: pertussis, tetanus and diphtheria. You can prevent pertussis! Contact your regular health care provider to get the vaccine that is right for your specific needs.

For more information, visit the County Department of Public Health website at http://www.sbcounty.gov/dph, or the California Department of Public Health website at http://www.cdph.ca.gov/HealthInfo/discond/Pages/Pertussis.aspx.