Like many California counties, the County of Santa Clara suffers from an ongoing structural imbalance in its budget. The worst economic recession since the Great Depression has dramatically reduced local property taxes, state program revenues, and federal program revenues – three major county revenue sources. The current methods used to finance county government are inadequate to cover the cost to maintain the existing level of services. When the economy is strong, there is more tax revenue to support programs and services. When the economy is weak, as it has been for the past several years, the demand for County safety net services is greater – at the same time that revenue shrinks.
The County Executive is recommending a total County budget of $4.0 billion, of which the General Fund share is $2.1 billion. The $219.6 million deficit applies to the General Fund, which supports services which do not have fully dedicated funding, such as the Sheriff, District Attorney, jails, hospitals and clinics, mental health, and public health to name a few. Funds for operations such as Parks and Roads and Airports are not included in the General Fund.
Recommended reductions do not include reductions which may be required once the FY 2012 State budget is approved sometime in the summer.