Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Santa Barara County budget figures VS the 2011 Santa Barbara Grand Jury Report, why do the numbers never match?

Towards the end of 2009 five senior prosecutors from the District Attorneys office took the county’s early retirement golden parachute deal at a cost of almost 500,000 dollars. As I understood the offer it was to be two additional years service credit but one cannot tell from that data that went before the Board of Supervisors just what the actual details were. Now according to this letter below the D.A.’s office was to save 1 Million Dollars over 2010-11 from a contract extension and not the early retirement as the public was lead to believe.

In a letter dated 09/25/09
To: Board of Supervisors
From; Susan Paul assistant CEO/HR Director
Subject: Deputy District Attorneys Association Contract Extension

Fiscal Analysis
Description……………………………….Savings Estimate 2years
Savings from reducing performance increases ...72,016
Savings from 64- hour furlough………………183,232
Re-balancing the staff of attorneys……………1, 255,391
Cost of early retirement incentives…………….( 480,018 )
……………………………………..Total        1,030,662.
Estimated at approximately six months salary.*

After reviewing this letter and recalling all the media coverage last June on department budget cuts that the D.A. was still to endure. Imagine my surprise when I learned that last years D.A. budget actually exceeded 19 Million dollars. An according to the recently released Santa Barbara Grand Jury report the District Attorneys’ actual 2009-10 budget was; 19,101,331 with 121 FTE. However if you look at the county budget for last year you will find only 17.8 Million was budgeted for 09-10. Which means that even with the early retirement incentives and leaving the vacated senior prosecutor’s positions unfilled, the D.A.’s budget still climbed over 2 million dollars from the previous year. This year the County has a proposed 18,434,564 Operating and Capitol Budget with 119.7 ( FTE’s )Positions for the D.A.’s office. Now I am confused here because all we heard last year during the budgeting process was how much money was being cut from the D.A. and other agencies. Now just in case you’re wondering 16.9 million dollars was the budget for the District Attorneys office in 2008-09. If anything last years budget never should have exceeded 2008-09’s number.

Here is the tricky part about what we are lead to believe in Santa Barbara by the very weak reporting media. Had you reviewed the new Grand Jury report by only reading the story that appeared with Noozhawk last week you would have been missing some very interesting data. You see the media portrayed the report as information on county salaries and little else. When in fact it also reviews department by department, and city by city budgets as well.

Grand Jury Report Reveals Santa Barbara County’s Highest-Paid Government Officials

“The most recent Santa Barbara County Grand Jury Report on compensation spotlights the highest-paid government workers in county government, cities, school districts, special districts and colleges.
With lagging tax revenues, jurisdictions all over the county have struggled to balance budgets as salary and benefit costs continue to increase. Base salaries, employer-paid health care and employer-paid pensions all contribute to total compensation and cost to the taxpayers, which is significantly higher than employees’ take-home pay.”

So I decided to compare the County Counsel and Treasurer/Tax Collectors numbers between the Grand Jury report and our County Budgets.
The Grand Jury report reflects that the County Counsels budget was 7,436,228. With 37 FTE Positions for 2009.  That is odd since presently the county has a projected a Budget request of only 2,969,647 Operating and Capitol with 36.1 (FTEs) Positions for 2010-11 That is a 3.5 Million dollar discrepancy, how come?  The Grand Jury reports the Treasurer / Tax Collectors Capitol and Operating Budget was 13,499,034 with 46 FTE for 2009. Yet the County has projected a budget of only 7,594,463 for Capitol and Operating with 44.9 (FTEs) Positions for 2010-11. That is a difference of 5,904,571 dollars. Between the two offices we have almost a 9.4 Million dollar gap which could really be used for “Gang Intervention” programs.

Does my discovery really matter, I am not sure to be honest? All I can do is supply the information and see what comes from it. I already know that in one budget there was 15 Million dollars for court services with x amount of full time employees. Than last year there was no full time employees for court services and the budget remained at 15 Million dollars, why is that?

In closing the problem I have with our elected officials is that there math never seems to add up and my next posting will be on just that subject.

 You may view the full Grand Jury report @ Than compare that data against the data found @ which is the purposed 2010-11 Santa Barbara County Budget

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