Tuesday's special election results indicated voters were not willing to help bail out the state from its budget woes. However, the impact of those results will resonate broadly on the local level, too.

With Alameda County already facing a potential bulging funding gap of nearly $178 million for next year, county officials now say they will lose another $70 million to the state as Sacramento tries to balance its budget despite the failure of five budget-related ballot measures.

County officials are bracing for a loss of $40 million for the upcoming fiscal year — the county's portion of nearly $2 billion in property taxes the state plans to borrow from local governments to help balance its budget — and an additional $20 million in costs to programs that provide care to homebound seniors and the disabled, as the state is turning over much of the financial obligations for In-Home Support Services programs to local bodies. The county also faces numerous other cuts in health and social service programs.

Even before the state's May revise on its budget, the county faced problems of its own with a $178 million shortfall for the upcoming fiscal year — the highest the county has faced in recent years. Last year, the county was able to eliminate a $74 million gap, mainly through departmental savings the previous year.


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Now, with the additional cuts from the state, the slashing will have to go further and be deeper.

Susan Muranishi, the county's administrator, said it looks as if many cuts will be coming from public safety, with job losses in the offices of the public defender, probation, sheriff and district attorney. The Sheriff's Office may lose more than 100 full-time positions.

Supervisor Keith Carson, who heads the county's budget work group, said when you consider Oakland officials may cut police positions and the county's possible reduction in public safety, there is cause for concern, especially as people get more desperate in a recession.

"You may hear about the murders and assault, but you don't really hear about all the muggings and break-ins and things of that nature," Carson said. "But you'll start hearing about it more and more as public safety gets cut."

The county must pass a balanced budget by the end of June.

The cuts
In addition to slashing In-Home Support Services and the loss of property tax revenue to the state, these are other cuts proposed that would affect Alameda County:
  • Elimination of the Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants for elderly, blind or disabled immigrants. The plan will add to the caseload of Alameda County's General Assistance Program and increase its cost to the county by an additional $5 million, bringing the total cost increase to more than $22 million next year.
  • Cuts to public health programs would force the county to make $2 million in reductions to emergency care, maternity services and children's dental care.
  • Reductions in the Medi-Cal program that are likely to cost the county more than $1.1 million.
  • Elimination of substance abuse treatment and crime prevention funding, which will cost the county $5.4 million.
  • A 10 percent reduction in child welfare services for group homes, foster care and other services, which will cost the county an additional $2 million.
  • A $1.5 million cut to HIV-AIDS education and prevention services in Alameda County.
    Source: Alameda County Administrator's Office