Harder for Valley Counties to Balance Budgets Than Coastal Ones

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(Sacramento, CA)
Monday, April 13, 2009

The Golden State has 58 counties, and it’s hard to keep track of all of them.  But anecdotally, says Paul McIntosh with the California State Association of Counties:
McIntosh: “The hardest-hit counties are in the valley.” 
McIntosh: “They’ve been hardest hit by the housing foreclosures; they’ve been hardest hit by declines in property tax, declines in sales tax; and they’ve also seen the largest increase in demand for social service programs.” 
Coastal counties, McIntosh says, tend to have property values that are relatively stable.  And counties with big cities have more diverse economies than rural ones that rely on agriculture.
Still, every county is different – especially with spending decisions often based on regional politics.  Coastal Santa Cruz County, for example, faces one of the biggest deficits, percentage-wise – largely because it spent so much on social programs when the economy was strong.