Job cuts, Alpine Road trail improvement in new county budget
• Budget assumes passage of three tax measures on June ballot.
John Maltbie, the interim San Mateo County manager, is proposing cutting 234 positions in county government for the 2012-13 budget while at the same time proposing to spend $2 million to improve the meandering and controversial section of trail along Alpine Road between Menlo Park and Portola Valley.
A public hearing on the proposed budget before the Board of Supervisors is set for 9 a.m. Monday, June 18, in the board chambers in the Hall of Justice at 400 County Center in Redwood City.
In a May 30 statement, Mr. Maltbie outlined the budget spending priorities. The Alpine Road trail project comes fourth in a list of eight spending priorities. Among them:
• $44.2 million for the first phase of planning a new 576-bed county jail "to replace the aging and outdated Women's Correctional Center and to relieve chronic overcrowding in men's facilities." The jail is expected to cost $165 million and be ready for occupation in mid-2015.
• $9.7 million for tenant and seismic improvements to Circle Star South, a county-owned building for dispatchers for public safety communications and for the county's emergency operations center.
• $2.7 million to fund "realignment," part of a 2011 initiative by Gov. Jerry Brown to gradually transfer oversight from the state to the counties of parolees and prisoners convicted of "non-violent, non-serious and non-sex-related" crimes.
• $3.4 million to pay for Sheriff's Office patrol services to the city of Millbrae, most of which will be offset by revenues from Millbrae.
• $1.5 million to comply with negotiated salary and benefit increases. "The modest ... increase in salary and benefits countywide is mainly for step increases for certain employees and negotiated raises for nurses," the county statement said.
The $1.83 billion budget proposal assumes the passage in the June 5 election of ballot measures T, U and X. If a simple majority of voters approves them, these measures would increase annual revenues by $13 million when rental car, parking and hotel businesses pass the new taxes on to their customers, most of whom are visitors to the county.
If voters approve these three taxes, the budget will be balanced with a $28 million withdrawal from general fund reserves, leaving the reserve at $165 million, Budget Director Jim Saco told the Almanac. If voters reject all three tax measures, the withdrawal would rise to $40 million.
Two hundred of the proposed cuts to staff would come from closing a long-term care facility in Burlingame, with the others spread around 10 other county departments, Mr. Saco said.
Other cutbacks include $1.1 million in "efficiency measures" in the information technology services, another $1.1 million by eliminating a fire engine company in San Mateo, and $2.7 million in cutbacks at the county medical center.
"By the end of fiscal year 2012-13, the county will have eliminated a net of 766 positions or about a one-sixth of its work force," Mr. Maltbie said. "While there is some improvement in the local economy and stabilizing of revenues the county still faces many financial challenges."
"We can no longer assume that what once worked well will work well in the future," he added. "Help will not be forthcoming from Washington, D.C., or Sacramento. I am convinced that the only way forward is to remake the organization in a way that will provide financial stability and flexibility to meet the uncertainties ahead of us."
Go to www.smcgov.org/budget and click on links under the "Current Budget" heading for more details.
Alpine Road trail
Stanford University had proposed spending about $10 million to redesign and reroute the section of Alpine Road trail, but a majority on the Board of Supervisors rejected the plan in December 2011.
A last-minute proposal to the board to simply repave the existing trail came too late for significant study, but it emerged as a viable alternative for the county. Mr. Saco said he did not have details on what the proposed $2 million budget allocation would cover.
A large majority of residents of Stanford Weekend Acres opposed the Stanford plan, in part because of the complicated logistics of creating a multi-use "suburban" 8-foot-wide asphalt trail on a semi-rural route that includes two freeway ramps, an eroding creek bank, and a very narrow right-of-way next to a steep hillside.