County officials put off a final budget vote again yesterday for one simple reason: they just aren’t ready yet. They’re trying to adjust to a deficit that suddenly grew 8 million dollars larger last week when the latest tax revenue figures came in. But the layoffs had to happen anyway – and nearly 200 of them are in a single department: Child Protective Services. Ann Edwards-Buckley heads the county’s Department of Health and Human Services.
Edwards-Buckley: “It’ll mean that kids may wait longer in unsafe environments, prior to a social worker being able to come out and assess. It may mean children wait longer for a permanent home, because there are fewer social workers to find permanent homes for them. It certainly puts our safety net at risk.”
And CPS cuts might not be done yet. In a sign of just how bad the county’s budget picture is, supervisors will have to choose between laying off 26 more CPS employees … or 23 sheriff’s deputies … or somewhere in-between. And the sheriff’s department already lost more than a hundred deputies last month. Supervisor Roberta MacGlashan wants to transfer hotel tax revenues to help fill in the gap.
MacGlashan: “Hotel taxes fund a number of worthwhile community projects that we all like to have, but we’re looking at making substantial cuts in law enforcement or/and Child Protective Services. And I just can’t see doing that if we haven’t made the other cut first.”
Supervisors now plan to deal with the 76 million dollar deficit as soon as next Wednesday. Counties are required by law to approve final budgets by next Friday. So this time, when we say … “a vote is expected next week!” … there’s a pretty good chance we’ll be right.