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Placer County supes OK five-year budget plan effort

Unfilled positions could be lopped from county budget calculations
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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AUBURN CA - A five-year budget strategy for Placer County is moving forward with guidance from at least one elected official who wants to ensure any job cuts are done with care. Supervisors directed staff at last Tuesday?s board meeting to move forward with implementing a five-year budget plan. Graham Knaus, county finance and budget operations manager, said the ?bottom line? of the strategy is to allow revenues to keep up with a significant anticipated increase in the county?s cost of operations. One of the keys will be phasing out county jobs that have been vacated by a departure or retirement and remain unfilled because of a county hiring freeze. The jobs are included as projected expenditures in annual county budgets. No actual target number of funded, unfilled jobs was identified during the meeting but Knaus said a drawdown could take place over the next four years. The county workforce is down 15.4 percent to about 2,150 filled position as a result of a hiring freeze put in place nearly five years ago. Knaus added that other operational expenditures could be reduced to retain the position and close a funding gap. While supervisors had praise for the new long-term planning effort, Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery expressed her support for taking a detailed look at the pros and cons of phasing out unfilled positions that could prove of value to the county if they need to be revived in the future. ?Not all funded vacant positions are equal,? Montgomery said. ?Some we actually need to fill.? New County Executive Officer David Boesch said that the board?s actions effectively build on previous steps to balance the budget based on past board policies. ?It is Placer County?s deliberate and long-standing conservative fiscal planning that has allowed the county to withstand the impacts of the economy while preserving core services,? Boesch said. ?This has also positioned the county to transition from the economic downturn proactively to ensure the long-term fiscal health of county operations.? The five-year plan direction comes a month after the board adopted a proposed $690.1-million budget.