County to consider layoffs, outsourcing in coming fiscal year

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to consider eliminating 771 government positions and outsourcing some services to help balance its budget in the coming fiscal year.

The overall budget - this year's totaled $4.9 billion - is expected to shrink by about 4.7 percent, or about $254 million, in fiscal 2009-10, according to Don Steuer, the county's chief financial officer.

Most of the 771 positions are unfilled, he said. Seventy-nine face layoffs, but most will be offered other county jobs, Steuer said.

Some board members blamed the state, which share property taxes and other revenues with the county.

"This is a state that has mismanaged funds for years," County Supervisor Ron Roberts said. (The problem) is far deeper and more fundamental than just the economy.''

Elizabeth Orman, a documents clerk, tearfully asked the board to save her job.

"If you voted to lay me off, you can be rest assured I will have a hard time keeping my home," she told the board.

Sharon-Frances Moore, the president of the Service Employees International Union Local 221, which represents many county employees, asked the board to consider eliminating management positions, instead of lower-income positions.

The board also asked the county administrator to identify services that could be outsourced to save money.

"We have a responsibility to the taxpayers to explore any and all cost-saving measures," said Supervisor Dianne Jacobs, the chair of the board. "This may be the only way we can keep some of our programs.''

At today's board meeting, the supervisors also heard cost-cutting proposals from various department officials.

Possible public safety cuts include closing the 440-bed Descanso jail in Alpine, decentralizing the SWAT unit and eliminating the mentally ill offender program, Steuer said.

Health and Human Services Agency Director Nick Macchione said cuts in

his department would result in longer wait times for services. He proposed

cutting non-mandated services, such as well-child visits and a radio talk show.

Mikel Haas, general manager of the Community Services Group, said he

plans to maintain library hours and push forward with the construction of three

new libraries, including locations in Ramona and Fallbrook. To cut costs,

however, Haas said libraries would have 20 percent fewer new books, DVDs and

other materials.

Haas also proposed a 14 percent reduction in temporary workers hired to

help with elections.

The public can weigh in on the proposed cuts during budget hearings set for June 8-9. The board will begin budget deliberations June 23.

Separately, the board agreed to a deal for aerial firefighting services on an as-needed basis.

The board also approved a timeline for replacing Sheriff Bill Kolender, who is retiring July 2. The application process begins Wednesday and ends on June 10. On June 16, the board will select their top five finalists.

On June 23, a public hearing will take place during which the board will make a final selection for sheriff.

   
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