Tulare County passes balanced budget

September 20, 2011

The Tulare County Board of Supervisors today unanimously approved a $953.8 million balanced spending plan recommended by County Administrative Officer Jean Rousseau for Fiscal Year 2011-12.

“Tulare County will continue to spend within its means and provide a balanced budget,” said Mike Ennis, Chairman of the Tulare County Board of Supervisors. “I want to thank all employees who have continued to provide excellent service through these tough times.”

The 2011-12 Recommended Budget reflects a $5.6 million increase over last year’s adopted budget. The increase in funding can be attributed to:

- Suspension of furlough program: Tulare County employees will receive a total of $2 million due to the suspension of the mandatory 40-hour furlough program, which equated to 1.923 percent in salary reductions. To date, Tulare County has reached side letter agreements with 9 out of the 10 represented employee groups.  Tulare County is continuing negotiations with SEIU regarding the proposed side letter agreement.  The terms proposed to SEIU mirror those presented to the Board for adoption for the unrepresented as well as the represented employees.
- Increase in retirement costs: $2 million
- Increase $1 million in contingency.
- Marijuana Enforcement: $600,000 will be spent on adding additional staff members to the Sheriff’s Department, District Attorney’s Office, and Resource Management Agency for code enforcement and to investigate and eradicate illegal marijuana grows on the San Joaquin Valley floor.

Entering the budget process, Tulare County faced a $4.3 million General Fund budget deficit. County Administrative Officer Jean Rousseau said $2.3 million in across-the-board spending cuts by county department heads and $2 million in revenue - including Williamson Act legislation funding - were used to close the deficit.

Chairman Ennis said he was pleased with the high level of performance from County staff during the last year. Highlights from County staff included:

- The Tulare County Sheriff’s Department decreased gang crime by 16 percent.
- Led by the District Attorney’s Office, the Tulare County Regional Auto Theft Team made 236 arrests for auto theft and chop shop operations and recovered 275 vehicles with a value of more than $3.1 million.
- Tulare County Library expanded services in unincorporated communities and signed up more than 3,000 children for the Summer Reading Program.
- The Resource Management Agency established a project review committee to create an easier process for residents seeking to implement planning projects.

Some of the goals of county staff for the next fiscal year include:

- Applying gang injunctions to high crime unincorporated communities.
- Identifying and eradicating illegal marijuana grow sites on the Valley floor.
- Developing and implementing a Countywide Customer Service Program.
- Updating the County Strategic Business Plan and Management System.

“Tulare County’s employees should be commended for setting and achieving high goals from year to year,” Chairman Ennis said.

The Board of Supervisors is responsible for reviewing and approving budgets for all County operating funds, internal service and enterprise funds, County Service Areas and dependent special districts. The Board also sits as the Redevelopment Agency and is responsible for those budgets. The State Controller issues guidelines for the organization and presentation of county budgets so that they are standardized among all counties.