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Sonoma County supervisors call for tax extensions

Sonoma County supervisors heard their first detailed report Tuesday on how county services might be impacted by Gov. Jerry Brown's attempt to fix California's $26.6 billion budget deficit.

Administrators detailed two possible scenarios.

The one proposed by Brown and endorsed by supervisors Tuesday would put scores of new low-level offenders in county jails each year, change juvenile detention operations and give counties more oversight of health and human service programs. The latter programs already face millions in cuts as part of a budget package approved by legislators last week.

"I don't really think there's another option for us," said Supervisor Valerie Brown.

That assessment came after administrators detailed the other scenario — what would happen if voters do not approve five-year extensions of taxes on vehicles, income and sales in a June special election, or if because of Republican opposition to that election, voters never have a say on the extensions at all.

In that case, Brown has said, he would be forced to balance the budget on cuts alone, though he hinted this week he might find a way to put the issue on the November ballot. The result of his more dire budget-slashing threat to Sonoma County would be an additional $30 million to $60 million in funding reductions, mostly across health and human service programs, officials said.

Salaries for in-home support workers tending to the sick and elderly would be scaled back to minimum wage, adult protective and foster care transitional housing programs ended and funding for community policing and jail booking programs put in jeopardy.

Board Chairman Efren Carrillo called that alternative "calamitous."

"The potential impacts are real and they are devastating," he said.

For two hours, supervisors and county department heads discussed the range of impacts foreseen under both proposals. Already, the county faces between $30 million to $60 million in cuts, mostly to health and human service programs, plus a multi-year, permanent state takeaway of $15 million in early childhood education funds as part of budget legislation approved last week, county managers said.


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