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Alameda County Supervisors Approve $2.8 Billion Budget

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Lake Merritt in Oakland. (CBS)

Lake Merritt in Oakland. (CBS)

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OAKLAND (CBS SF) — The Alameda County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously today to approve a $2.8 billion total budget for the new fiscal year beginning on Tuesday.

That amount represents an increase of $86.7 million, or 3.2 percent, over the current fiscal year, and closes a funding gap of $67.1 million, which is the lowest the county has had in seven years.

The funding gap, which is the difference between the cost of maintaining existing programs and projected revenues, is $80 million in the fiscal year that ends on Monday and most gaps in recent years have been more than $100 million.

Alameda County officials are closing about 75 percent of the gap by making about $50 million in one-time strategic changes such as efficiency efforts and the other 25 percent by making about $17 million worth of cutbacks in programs and staffing.

Much of the savings will come from the county’s ongoing fiscal management reward system, which allows departments to carry over net savings each fiscal year to be used in subsequent years to balance the budget and help preserve important services.

The county’s general fund, which pays for most of the county’s operations, is $2.4 billion, an increase of $53.5 million, or 2.4 percent, over the current year.

The proposed budget calls for nearly 9,500 full-time county employees, an increase of nearly 300 workers over the current year. It also includes cost-of-living adjustments for most county employees.

When Alameda County Administrator Susan Muranishi presented her proposed budget earlier this month, she said revenues from property and sales taxes are increasing and the county’s unemployment rate has dropped to 5.7 percent, marking the first time it’s been below 6 percent since the recession started more than six years ago.

She also said Alameda County’s population grew by 1.5 percent, to almost 1.6 million people, last year, making it and Santa Clara County the two fastest-growing counties in the state.

But Muranishi said, “The economic recovery has not benefited everyone equally” and Alameda County has more than 50 neighborhoods with poverty rates of more than 25 percent and historically high numbers of families, adults and children who receive safety-net services.

Picking up on that theme, Supervisor Wilma Chan said today that the county has “a higher poverty rate” than before and “more residents who are hungry.”

© Copyright 2014 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed

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