Merced Budget Faces $44,000,000 Shortfall

August 17, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
More than 100 Merced County employees could lose their jobs as the county tries to solve its $44-million dollar shortfall. County supervisors will vote on a budget Tuesday that would mean between 89 and 111 layoffs. In addition, more than 120 job vacancies would not be filled.

There were no smiles as Merced County leaders discussed their plan to solve the budget crisis. Cuts include eliminating up to 123 vacant positions and up to 111 full-time employees would lose their jobs. Of those filled positions, 34 come from Mental Health, 23 to 45 come from Human Services, and 23 come from the Health Department.

Programs also face steep cuts, like Cal-Works and maternal and child health. The county is cutting the number of beds in its psychiatric facility and the director of the County's Human Services said social workers will no longer be able to check on each child welfare call. "After this, we're going to have to triage. We're not going to be able to check on all the children," said Ana Pagan.

County leaders said they're faced with difficult decisions but there really is no better alternative. "You try to do the best you can. And the outcome of this year is troublesome. What else can you do?" said County Supervisor John Pedrozo.

County supervisors will have to do more, though. To balance the proposed budget, they'll already be using a third of the county's reserves and they're expecting even more mid-year cuts from the state.

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