Placer County short $18.6 million

Budget shortfall hasn’t meant layoffs — yet
By: Susan Belknap, Placer Herald Editor
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Local cities are not the only ones facing budget shortfalls. Placer County is facing a big one to the tune of $18.6 million for the 2009-10 fiscal year. In a recent address by County Executive Officer Tom Miller to the Rocklin Chamber of Commerce, Miller said the Placer County Board of Supervisors recognized the economic downtown long before the collapse and has been in a two-year hiring freeze. “We now have 200 less employees, but we haven’t had to impose layoffs yet,” Miller said. Miller said in order to balance the upcoming budget, the county will “make prudent use of county resources” and there will be $6.7 million in labor adjustments. In an effort to “share the pain” about 300 county employees agreed to take a salary adjustment and take 12 unpaid days off for the 2009-10 year. Miller said the remaining reductions will come from using a gradual draw down of restricted funds. “Thanks to the past board that set aside reserves for a rainy day and the cost-cutting action we’ve already taken, Placer County is in much better shape than many jurisdictions around us,” said Supervisor Chairman F.C. “Rocky” Rockholm in a news release about the budget deficit. “However, the rainy days are coming – the next few years will be very challenging. We will need everyone to pull together and use every dollar very wisely.” Miller told Rocklin chamber members “even with all the reductions, Placer County will continue to be a good place to live and for companies to build. Our priority is investing in our future.” That future includes continued and dedicated funding to the West Placer and Auburn Animals shelter, libraries in Rocklin, Colfax and Foresthill, the Downtown Roseville court renovation and the building of the Highway 65 and Sunset Boulevard interchange. Miller said the opening of the Rocklin Library, which will be located at the corner of Granite Drive and Rocklin Road, is planned for June 2010 and the groundbreaking for the interchange will take place this week. Additional projects include the Thunder Valley Casino expansion and plans for a 15-story, 400-room hotel that will bring hundreds of jobs to the county. “Planning also continues for the county to be the site of a regional university to be located to the west of the city of Roseville on 1,157 acres with a projected enrollment of 6,000,” Miller said. Besides all the plans to build in Placer County, Miller also mentioned the importance of the Placer County Conservation Plan. “We want to make sure that as our county grows, that we have woodlands and natural space area is accounted for,” he said. “We have strong agricultural components in Placer County and want to make sure we help preserve natural areas.”