Will San Mateo County put freezeon hiring?

Fearing layoffs due to a $25 million budget shortfall, union representatives Tuesday demanded a place at the table as several county supervisors said a hiring freeze could be a solution to put San Mateo County back in the black.

“We’re worried about the future of the public hospital, and we’ve asked to be at the table instead of passively receiving a report in April requesting layoffs,” said Nadia Bledsoe, senior business agent for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

The union represents about 1,000 San Mateo County employees, including hospital staff, food workers and building inspectors.

Louise Alioto-Perez, an emergency-room coordinator at San Mateo Medical Center and a member of the Service Employees International Union, said she was worried the county would cut its funding for indigent care.

“If anyone thinks the other hospitals are going to absorb the indigent patients, it’s not going to happen,” she said at the supervisors’ board meeting Tuesday.

While no decisions will be made until January at the earliest, several supervisors on Tuesday voiced support for a hiring freeze. It would not affect positions with levels of staffing mandated by the state, such as many nursing and law enforcement jobs.

“That’s never a popular decision, but that’s the only way we’ll be able to control future costs,” Supervisor Mark Church said.

The county’s costs are quickly outpacing its revenue, mainly due to negotiated labor contracts and dwindling funds from the state, County Manager John Maltbie said. Supervisors must address the issues now, or the deficit will reach $86.2 million in 2013, he said. The county’s overall budget is about $1.7 billion.

Supervisors accepted a report Tuesday detailing ways to eliminate the deficit by 2013. The plan includes reducing the funding of indigent care, eliminating vacant positions in all departments, and cuts in program budgets. The county’s reserves would be used to soften the impact, particularly in the first year, Maltbie said. The plan also suggested new revenue sources, including sales taxes, parking taxes and hotel taxes.

Supervisor Jerry Hill suggested using excess Education Revenue Augmentation Fund monies to avoid laying off employees. Due to high property values and declining school enrollment, San Mateo is one of three counties in the state that gets back some of its property tax money used to fund schools. This year, the county received $52 million in excess ERAF dollars.

tbarak@examiner.com  

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

‘Mad Mob’ aims to influence SF City Hall on mental health policies

They are fed up with City Hall telling those who need the services what’s best for them

Police efforts to stem 49ers revelry in Mission District spark backlash

SFPD preparing for potential bonfires, vandalism on Super Bowl Sunday

Calendar of Events: San Francisco celebrates the Year of the Rat

JAN. 25 Choy Sun Doe Day: The San Francisco Chinese Chamber of… Continue reading

BART study: Ending paper tickets would ‘disproportionately’ impact low-income riders, people of color

When BART eventually eliminates its magnetic-stripe paper tickets from use, it will… Continue reading

Second case of respiratory coronavirus confirmed in U.S.

The woman, who is in her 60s, remained hospitalized Friday and her condition had been stabilized

Most Read