In a recent press release, the County gave some details about how they somehow managed to arrive at a budget for 2015-2016 that still has Humboldt mired in a $3 million dollar budget deficit.
We know, it’s not surprising.
But we think that several excerpts from the budget are worth noting. For example, when Humboldt’s favorite SoHum Supervisor Estelle Fennell said: “We are beginning to feel economic recovery in Humboldt County, but we continue to face hard choices among many worthy needs,” and, “We thank the community for understanding our financial situation…”
Funny thing is, many people ’round here don’t understand the financial situation. You see, also mentioned in the press release is the fact that the County raised taxes (via Measure Z) by nearly $9 million buckaroos over the last year. We aren’t geniuses, but hell, that’s a lot of money. Granted, it was all ear-marked for “public safety expenditures,” but you all remember how we didn’t actually get all the things we were promised for our safety, don’t you?
P.s. Bye Bye Station 4!
As for the part of Estelle’s statement referring to Humboldt’s economic recovery, well…*vomit*. Sorry, that literally made us sick.
The County’s discretionary spending fund came in at around $115.2 million, but the money coming in from General Fund revenues falls a wee $3,000,000 short of the amount required to cover that. Count the zeros, folks.
Speaking of zero, that’s about how much sympathy we have for the “hard choices” that the County had to make. Expected and unexpected costs are rising for everybody living in this county. Yet we balance our checkbooks every month.
But isn’t it sad when an “expected expense” these days is your local government increasing your taxes every year? Don’t go thinking that’s going to stop, either, since the County is desperately seeking a way to bring the General Reserve balance back up to the required $6.7 million. As of the press release, the Reserve was sitting at a measly $1.17 million. Oh, what’s that? The County did contribute money to the Reserve this year?
Yep, they put in $400,000. Straight from the County:
“Reserve levels are low: The Board’s policy calls for the county’s General Reserve to be between 8 and 10 percent of the total General Fund revenues, or $8.9 million. However, the county’s current General Reserve balance is only $1.17 million. This budget contributes $400,000 to the General Reserve. Per policy, General Fund contingencies should be $6.7 million, but are currently $1.24 million.”
Before we go purge again – thanks, Estelle! – let’s look at our favorite part of the press release that talks about “looking forward” and “addressing the deficit”:
“New costs for FY 2015-16 are leading to a budget with a deficit of more than $3 million in the General Fund. Rather than calling for a round of service reductions, this budget addresses the community’s needs. However, this remains an unsustainable budget picture and county staff will continue to work to address it – including tackling rising retirement costs.”
Actually, last we checked, we did have our services reduced in spite of a massive tax increase. Last we checked, the community’s needs were not being addressed.
And last we checked, the County and the current Board of Supervisors have done nothing to effectively address the unsustainable budgets they sure love approving.