County projects deficit

Written by Jessica Cejnar, The Triplicate March 13, 2013 04:03 pm

Superviors to hear today about $500K hole in budget

Issues related to the California Public Safety Realignment Plan are primarily to blame for depleting the county’s general fund by a projected $514,316 by the end of the fiscal year in June, officials say.

Less-than-anticipated revenue in the Del Norte County Sheriff’s Office’s jail and coroner budgets because of AB 109 are the culprits, said County Administrative Budget Jay Sarina. The general fund currently has a positive balance of $110,992, he said.

Sarina will discuss the projected deficit in his mid-year budget review at the Board of Supervisors meeting today. County officials are recommending supervisors freeze non-essential services and supply expenditures. Supervisors also will be asked not to fill non-essential positions that are currently vacant.

“When you’re talking $100,000 out of $10 million of discretionary money, money is still tight,” Sarina said, referring to the general fund’s current balance. “A large part of it is AB 109.”

AB 109, which returns some state inmates to local jails, resulted in a loss of $714,000 to the county due to the loss of a state-funded in-custody drug treatment program, according to the staff report. The county had previously been reimbursed for each inmate day spent in the program.

To offset that, supervisors adopted a plan in the 2012-13 budget that included accepting inmates from other counties. The county was originally expected to accept inmates from two counties, Sarina said, but only one county so far has transferred inmates to Del Norte. 

The jail budget estimated revenue for 20 inmates from other counties, according to the staff report. An average of nine out-of-county inmates have been housed in Del Norte County this fiscal year so far.

The supervisors also included revenue in the 2012-13 budget based on a commitment from the district attorney to pursue reimbursement for marijuana eradication costs, according to the staff report. That reimbursement did not materialize, another $50,000 budget hit, according to the county.

“Primarily what we’re seeing here is $270,000 within the jail budget and marijuana suppression program,” Sarina said, referring to the lost revenue.

Meanwhile, the sequester — $85 billion in automatic federal spending cuts that began March 1 — is likely to result in a reduction in payments the federal government makes in lieu of taxes due to the U.S. Forest Service purchasing land, Sarina said. Last year the federal government paid the county $200,000 for land taken off the tax roll. This year, that amount is expected to be at least 10 percent less, he said.

Sarina added that supervisors may also discuss the state’s failure to make payments in lieu of taxes since 2003 for land taken off the tax roll to create wildlife reserves.

Also today, supervisors are expected to discuss appointing two representatives to the Del Norte Solid Waste Management Authority Board. 

While the Crescent City Council appointed Councilman Rick Holley and Mayor Rich Enea to the board recently, supervisors have not made any appointments. In January, a majority of supervisors said they did not wish to extend the existence of the authority, which oversees solid waste and recycling efforts throughout Del Norte, as well as environmental monitoring of the closed Crescent City Landfill.

The Solid Waste Authority Board met on Feb. 26 as a three-member board — a shadow of its former 10-member self — with Supervisor Martha McClure representing the county. The five-member board is supposed to include two City Council members, two county supervisors and one public citizen appointed by the other four.

Supervisors will meet at 10 a.m. in the Flynn Administrative Center, 981 H St. Agendas and staff reports are available at www.co.del-norte.ca.us. Meetings are streamed live at http://media.co.del-norte.ca.us/.

Reach Jessica Cejnar at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it