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S.D. County Supervisors Vote to Eliminate 27 Positions

The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously today to  eliminate 27 positions within San Diego County to help offset a $90 million  decline in property and sales tax revenues.

The Health and Human Services Agency Department will lose 18 jobs,  primarily in adult protective services due to a reduction in state funding for  social service programs.

Nine positions, mostly building inspectors, will be eliminated from the  Department of Planning and Land Use as a result of a declining workload amid  the mounting economic recession.

The cuts will save the county about $2.2 million.

All of the impacted workers have been offered other positions, albeit  "less desirable" ones, elsewhere in the county, said Walt Ekard, the county's  chief administrative officer.

"I don't look forward to days like this and I know you don't either,"  Ekard said. "But in the end, we must make tough decisions that will ensure we  are able to balance our budget while still providing critical services to  people of this region."

More than a dozen speakers urged the Board of Supervisors to reconsider  any Health and Human Services Agency cuts.

Hilda Chan, an advocate with the Supportive Parents Information Network,  said she fears the layoffs will soon expand to social workers.

"During this time of record job losses and mass deprivation, you cannot  cut the staff who serve families that have hit rock bottom," she told the  Board of Supervisors.

Supervisors put much of the blame on the state, which has withheld funds  owed to the county while it remains deadlocked over how to solve California's  $42 billion spending shortfall.

"The greatest asset that we have in the county of San Diego is our  employees, bar none," Supervisor Greg Cox said. "But unfortunately we have to  deal with the effects of Sacramento. The fact that they do not have a budget.  The fact that they will not make the decisions they need to make to allow a lot  of these programs to continue."

Before the Board of Supervisors considered the layoffs, Don Steuer, the  county's chief financial officer, gave a grim update on the status of San Diego  County's financial standing.

Steuer testified that the county has suffered a steep decline in  property and sales tax revenue -- amounting to about $90 million this fiscal  year. He said the shortfall could grow to $153 million next fiscal year.

Steuer said the county's pension system suffered $2.5 billion in  investment losses through December.

That, coupled with the state's financial problems, has made for  "difficult financial times" for San Diego County, he said.

"It is not a pretty picture and we fear the worse is yet to come,"  Ekard told the supervisors.

Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Dianne Jacob called the financial update  "sobering."

"These are tough times and I believe that it is extremely important  that our board, county employees and the public understand just how severe the  economic times are," Jacob said. "It's happened to the private sector first  and now its coming down to hitting local government."

"We'll be impacted and there's no way around it and unfortunately it's  going to be painful and people will be hurt," she said.
 

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