Proposed cuts could bleed county

Gov. Schwarzenegger’s proposed budget — with its 10 percent across-the-board cuts and early release of more than 22,000 prisoners — could have devastating consequences for San Mateo County, officials said.

An analysis prepared by San Mateo officials detailing what a 10 percent cut could mean to several county departments coincided with the release of the state budget Thursday. The county’s Department of Child Support Services could be the hardest hit, which is funded with 66 percent federal dollars and 34 percent matching state dollars, according to the report.

Each dollar cut in state funds would be met by a $2 loss in federal funding. The department could lose $1.4 million of its $11.4 million operating budget and may be forced to eliminate 13 positions, dropping to a staffing level that hasn’t been seen in 15 years.

“Those are the dollars that help keep families together,” said Adrienne Tissier, president of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors. Tissier said she was disappointed that health and human services received short thrift in the

proposed state budget.

“The most difficult part is that it’s not just money; it’s real people,” she said.

While the governor’s budget will not be finalized until late summer, a 10 percent reduction might mean the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office would be slashed by $179,357, or 1.4 percent of its budgeted revenue, according to the report.

“That could take a prosecutor out of the courtroom,” said Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe. “That’s not something we could resolve by ordering fewer legal tablets and pencils.”

The county probation department would lose $330,000, placing many juvenile programs in jeopardy as well as training for law enforcement. A 10 percent reduction to the Health Department would mean a $2.9 million cut. Possibly affected would be mental health services for student and services for seniors.

“You’re taking two of our most vulnerable populations and impacting them significantly,” Tissier said.

The San Mateo Medical Center would also be affected by a proposed 10 percent cut to drug Medi-Cal rates. Some services, such as the county’s methadone treatment program, arejust beginning to recover from years of rate freezes, county officials said.

Schwarzenegger’s proposed early release for more than 22,000 inmates convicted of nonviolent and nonsexual offenses is also troubling for San Mateo County, officials said.

“No one is looking over their shoulder to make sure they’re on the straight and narrow,” Tissier said. “If they re-offend, they’ll end up in our jails.”

tbarak@examiner.com

Cuts’ potential impact

District Attorney’s Office:

» Possible loss: $179,369, or 1.4 percent of budgeted revenue.

Probation Department:

» Possible loss: $330,000

Department of Child Support Services:

» Possible loss: $1.14 million

» Total operating budget: $11.4 million

» At risk: 13 positions

Health Department

» Possible loss: $2.9 million

Source: County Manager’s Office

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