Yesterday, we officially adopted a $171 million budget for the upcoming 2009-2010 fiscal year that begins on October 1. We cut 11.4 percent, or $22 million, from the previous year’s $193 million budget. It was the first time I ever voted in favor of an Ada County budget.
Although I couldn’t get a second vote to support the idea it would have been my preference to replace $2 million worth of property tax revenue with money we have in a budget stabilization reserve – essentially a “rainy day” fund. This move would not have amounted to a big reduction in taxes for individual Ada County property taxpayers, but I believe it would have at least made it clear that lowering taxes is one of our goals. Nonetheless, we did make significant budget cuts and are moving in the right direction.
We tried to cut back in places that would have the least impact on service delivery. Although no stone was left unturned when seeking expenditures that could be reduced, there were some sacred cows. We didn’t cut payments to Emergency Medical Services, to senior centers, or to the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program.
“CASA is committed to the protection and healing of abused and neglected children.” This program, “appoints a trained volunteer to a child who has been placed in foster care due to suspected abuse or neglect.” We heard from a number of CASA volunteers who pleaded for continued county funding. The work these volunteers do for the most vulnerable members of our community is greatly valued and appreciated.
Despite huge budget cuts, we are maintaining all of the primary functions of county government and retaining similar levels of service.