Washoe County Commissioners took official action today to unanimously oppose any legislative action that would divert local revenues to the state and/or push down state-provided services to the county without funding resources. The Governor’s proposed state budget for 2011-13 includes both those items, and would require Legislation to implement them.
Washoe County has reduced its budget by $123 million over the past four years in response to declining property tax and sales tax revenues, and has identified a $33.5 million budget deficit for the coming 2011-12 fiscal year. The Governor’s proposed budget includes extension of the 9 cents of local property tax that was diverted from Washoe County by the 2009 Legislature to help the State address its budget deficit which was set to expire on June 31, 2011. In addition, the Governor’s budget also proposes pushing several state-provided services down to the County without funding sources. Even with the “add-backs” of some social service programs announced by the Governor’s Office today, both these actions would negatively impact the County’s budget by about $25 million per year, bringing the 2011-12 budget deficit to as much as $58.5 million. Given the budget cuts already made and their consequences, such as 16% less workforce and operating budgets that are at 2005 spending levels, Washoe County would be devastated by such a huge budget deficit. Washoe County Departments are currently putting together “worse case” scenario budgets which include closure of libraries, parks, layoffs, inability to represent and support the vulnerable and cognitively-impaired citizens in our community, and many other examples of reduction of the public-safety net as well as quality of life type services that Washoe County provides to all 420,000 citizens.