Despite the potential reduction in what equates to over $50 million worth of county services and programs, Discovery Bay appears well positioned for the coming fiscal year, according to Lisa Driscoll, county finance director.
For the first time in nearly a decade, Contra Costa County's financial picture is a reflection of the state's overall revenue crisis. Since 1998, the County General Fund has grown at an average annual rate of 7 percent a year. This year, however, according to the proposed 2008-09 budget figures, the county will experience a 4-percent decline in income.
Fortunately, the budgetary fallout should not significantly hurt Discovery Bay. Discovery Bay will receive no specific hits (in budget reductions), said Driscoll. And that's because the majority of the dollars being reduced are from special services such as clinics, for example. Discovery Bay has no clinics.
In 2007-08, the 12 tax rate areas in Discovery Bay paid a combined total of $26.7 million to the county. Of that amount, $587,000 went back to the town and straight into the landscape services fund, according to Town Manager Virgil Koehne.
Another $4.8 million of Discovery Bay's tax dollars went directly into the County General Fund. The exact dollar amount was not specified.
The same holds true of the additional $322,000 collected and given to the P-6 service area district. The additional tax is paid by some Discovery Bay residents for enhanced police services. According to Driscoll, a small percentage of both the dollars allocated from the county general fund and the P-district monies are distributed by Sheriff Warren Rupf to the areas he sees fit.
Some of the dollars are mandated, of course, said Driscoll. He's an elected official and we elected him to service the areas he needs to. Some money, she added, is discretionary, and can be used, for example, to boost patrol numbers. P-districts are certainly one area which helps to support that, she said.
Rupf did not return calls seeking comment.
And yet, of the $67 million in tax revenue dollars the sheriff's department is slated to receive this year, $8.3 million has been slashed from the sheriff's original request of $82 million.
According to County Administrator John Cullen, the cuts are still represented in the overall budget plan. Regarding the sheriff's cuts: they will still go through, said Cullen. But he is proposing that through some new sources he will absorb some of the cuts through natural attrition into the ranks of his deputies.
The sheriff has asked for more money so that he can increase patrols, but the Board of Supervisors has no additional dollars to allocate, said Driscoll.
Supervisor Mary Piepho agreed. We simply don't have the revenue to source the areas the sheriff wants, she said. So we're trying to work together during these tough times so that we don't have to lose physical bodies.
The Board of Supervisors approved the proposed 2008-09 county budget, which will be finalized at the May 6 meeting.