Fresno County approves uncertain budget

FRESNO, Calif.

In approving the $1.6 billion budget Fresno County Supervisor Debbie Poochigian said, "This is a matter of survival, we are surviving just like everybody else."

But many county employees will have less to survive on. Deputies already accepted wage reductions of about 7%. Unrepresented management, non-union employees, were handed 3.5% cuts, that's In line with what some other labor groups have already accepted. Top management will see their salaries reduced by 2%. The Supervisors are hoping union clerical workers will agree to cuts of at least 10%

Negotiations are still underway with about a dozen labor organizations, and the county is assuming it will get more concessions.

Supervisor Henry Perea says the county is assuming too much, and is being unfair. "Sitting here today I find it very difficult to take department heads who are making $133 thousand a year... and say you get a 2% pay cut but yet we're moving forward to take a clerical assistant who makes $34 thousand top step and take away 10% of her pay, there's a lot of inequity in this and I can't support it."

Supervisor Susan Anderson agreed with Perea. "I just see inequity in this too so I'm not going to support it."

But the three other Supervisors, Phil Larson, Debbie Poochigian and Judy Case saw this budget as the only option.

Case said, "It's painful. There's no question about this board is taking cuts along with employees, we are asking for reductions."

All of the supervisors have agreed to take a 7% pay reduction, or the equivalent.

Perea is urging all county elected officials to do the same. This budget preserves all Deputy Sheriff's positions, but an undetermined number of layoffs are expected in other departments.

Because of the uncertainty Poochigian noted they did put some money aside. "We didn't spent every penny, we put at least $3.9 million away for a rainy day and the rainy day is going to come sooner than later."

A majority of the Board of Supervisors approved more than $11 million in salary cuts for county employees, that's money that won't be in the local economy, and as this budget process is still uncertain they are likely to be asking for a lot more cuts in the coming months.

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