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County finances: more doom, more gloom

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SLO County officials used to wince over their dwindling finances. Lately, the mugging seems almost routine when millions of dollars simply aren’t available and jobs are at stake. In fact, it’s gotten so bad for so long it’s almost laughable.

“We take comfort that most of our peers are in much more difficult situations,” Dan Buckshi teased a nervously laughing Board of Supervisors.

Going into the 2010-11 fiscal year, the county’s deficit is expected to land somewhere between $18.5 and $19.5 million. That estimate already takes into account early financial squeezing with a $4.2 million pension rate increase, $1.5 million reduction in workman’s compensation for county employees, and other administrative tricks.

Officials expect to cut about 85 jobs this year. If that slashing does come to pass, county officials will have eliminated 258 fulltime equivalent positions over the past three years (many have been unfilled positions), accounting for a 10-year low for employment levels and about 10 percent of the workforce lost.

Hit hardest this year, based on current recommendations, will be public health services (10 percent in cuts) and funds for county roads (25 percent in cuts). Buckshi said such departments are more dependent on county general fund dollars and therefore more susceptible than the other departments, the rest of which are slated to lose five percent.

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