County approves budget

Gilroy – County supervisors Friday approved a $2.1 billion
budget for fiscal year 2006, which begins July 1.
The budget is $630 million less than the county’s budget for
fiscal year 2003. County Executive Pete Kutras was able to cut the
$126 million deficit for this year by eliminating 198 vacant
full-time positions, refinancing the county’s retirement plan and
drawing on about $40 million in

one-time

funds, money unexpectedly left over from the previous year.
Gilroy – County supervisors Friday approved a $2.1 billion budget for fiscal year 2006, which begins July 1.

The budget is $630 million less than the county’s budget for fiscal year 2003. County Executive Pete Kutras was able to cut the $126 million deficit for this year by eliminating 198 vacant full-time positions, refinancing the county’s retirement plan and drawing on about $40 million in “one-time” funds, money unexpectedly left over from the previous year.

In a last-minute change, Gilroy’s Mexican American Community Services Agency received an earmark for $123,000, enough to restore two summer programs that MACSA Regional Director Mariaelena DeLaGarza expected to lose after the county initially did not renew the $150,000 the organization received last year.

“We are so grateful to [Santa Clara County Supervisor] Don Gage and the committee for acknowledging the high need in Gilroy,” DeLaGarza said. “Our goal is to reach 500 kids.

One of those kids is nine-year-old Daniela Rangel, who said it would have been a long summer without MACSA.

“I like it better than staying at home,” Rangel said.

The San Martin Animal Shelter was not so fortunate. This summer, the shelter will be open just 20 hours a week, a 20 percent reduction.

“We just don’t have the money,” Gage said. “There are a lot of things I want to do that we can’t do.”

There are some other service cuts. The county will no longer help staff the state’s fire station near Smith Creek in east San Jose, and the road repair budget has been slashed, though those cuts shouldn’t affect Gilroy drivers. Road Operations Superintendent Roger Piazza said that South County will adhere to its normal maintenance schedule in the coming year.

There are virtually no service increases in the budget, though some additional staffing has been provided for the county probation department, in part because of trouble at the William F. James Boys ranch in Morgan Hill. The budget preserves the rural sheriff’s deputy for South County.

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