Fresno County Budget Affected By State Budget

February 23, 2009 6:56:54 PM PST
Now that a state budget has passed there are still questions about how it could benefit Fresno County and prevent future job cuts.Administrator John Navarrette admitted it will take some time before the benefits of the state budget positively affect the county. Meanwhile supervisors are still faced with layoffs and voluntary work furloughs to balance their budget.

Chief investigator Pete Chavez has worked for the Fresno county District Attorney's office for 29 years but does not know if he will make it to 30.

"A lot of uncertainty. A lot of apprehension within in the county family," said Chavez.

The County Board of Supervisors has already ordered the public works department to layoff 21 people and other departments like Chavez's could face similar instructions if the county does not reduce its forecasted $32-million budget shortfall and soon.

"Everyday we get more information and in some respects it gets better," said Administrator John Navarrette.

Navarrette said the county should expect to see essential money now that Governor Schwarzenegger has signed a new state budget.

"I'm being a bit cautious because we are still digesting the many trailer bills that came with the budget," said Navarrette.

Navarrette has learned the Williamson Act fund, which promotes farmland conservation, will remain a source of money for the county. The act provides $4.7 million annually.

"We had anticipated it to be eliminated so that helps us with our deficit or shortfall for next year," said the Administrator.

But supervisor Henry Perea warned the Williamson Act money will not be enough to stop future layoffs and furloughs.

"I would really caution ourselves not to think that with the federal stimulus package and what's happened with the state that we're gonna now?that we're out of the woods," said Pera.

Investigator Chavez can only hope his years of dedication and experience in the D.A.'s office will help him keep his job.

"Public safety is very important and we hope that's taken into consideration," said Chavez.

Navarrette said this painful process of determining who is cut and who is furloughed will continue through June. By May the county hopes to have a better understanding of how the state budget will impact Fresno County.

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