Mono County Supes redistribute Prop 172 funds
In an effort to unhook the Mono County Paramedics Program from its General Fund drip, the Mono County Board of Supervisors approved a resolution that will throw some Prop 172 funding the program’s way for the 2013/14 fiscal year.
The action, however, means that other departments that had previously been receiving the Prop 172 funds will now need to be backfilled by General Fund dollars. It’s a paper shift to make the Paramedic Program look like less of a General Fund drain.
According to the resolution, in 1993 voters approved Proposition 172, a legislative constitutional amendment directing the proceeds of a .50 percent sales tax to be used exclusively for local public safety services.
Historically, Mono County’s annual allotment of Prop 172 funds has been divvied up between the Sheriff’s Department, the District Attorney’s Office and the Probation Department at a split of 75%, 15% and 10%, respectively. However, a board of supervisors has the discretion each fiscal year to change the allocation of the funds to otherwise eligible public safety services.
According to Prop 172 language, public safety services includes but is not limited to sheriffs, police, fire protection, county district attorneys, county corrections, and ocean lifeguards. Therefore, the Mono County Board of Supervisors determined that Emergency Medical Services such as those provided by the Paramedics Program are public safety services eligible for Prop 172 funds.
“The Paramedics Program is always at the bottom of the barrel,” Supervisor Tim Fesko said on Tuesday. “We’re always packing General Funds into it and it makes it look like the worst program we have.”
The idea to reallocate Prop 172 funds was first raised May when the Paramedics Association brought forward its ideas on how to break the program away from the General Fund.
Rick Mitchell, President of the Paramedics Association had suggested the reallocation of Prop 172 funds as one alternative to the idea of cutting personnel from the Paramedics as had been suggested by consultant Fitch and Associates.
In 2013/14 the County received $1.3 million from Prop 172.
Supervisor Fred Stump, a former Fire Chief for the Long Valley Fire Department, has been a staunch supporter of the reallocation idea, which would also put some Prop 172 funding into the County’s First Responders Fund.
“Departments should not get siloed over this,” Stump said. “All departments are being made whole. There are no budget cuts here.”
Mono County District Attorney Tim Kendall, however, saw it differently.
“Being made whole this year is not my concern,” Kendall said. “This is my only source of revenue outside of the General Fund. I am General Fund dependant and this makes me more so. It [Prop 172 funding] is money I don’t have to grovel for. My concern is for the future of my budget.”
Kendall’s remarks angered Supervisor Tim Alpers. “We have the right to manage the people’s money,” he said. “You’re acting like you’re running a fiefdom over there. You better sharpen your story. This gives us flexibility and if it means more people have to come grovel, so be it.”
“This County has done business a certain way for a long time,” added Stump. “We’re just asking you to reassess. We need logical arguments that are more than ‘it’s just the cost of doing business.’”
Stump also pointed out that if the Paramedics Program continues to balloon the way that it has over the years and this shift isn’t made, people would be before the Board groveling anyway because the Program would suck more and more from the General Fund. He also reminded everyone that the Board has the ability to review and modify the dispersion of the funds each year.
“What is your fear?” Fesko asked Kendall. “Cut to the chase.”
“There’s no guarantee of backfill in the future,” Kendall said.
Chief Probation Officer Karin Humiston seemed less concerned about the reallocation, stating, “Let’s all achieve together, the Paramedics included.”
“This is an equity issue for the budget process,” Supervisor Byng Hunt said.
Supervisor Larry Johnston was the only Board member fully against the reallocation. He felt it was bad timing since the State of California continues to put more requirements on departments such as the Sheriff’s Department and AB 109.
“We don’t know what the State is going to do next,” Johnston said.
The change required a 4/5th vote. While Fesko was “kinda torn” on which way to vote, he ultimately voted yes, making Johnston the only no vote and successfully approving the resolution as written.
The allocation formula will now give the first 25% of Prop 172 funding to the Paramedic Program, then $150,000 of the remaining balance will go to the First Responders Fund. After that the Sheriffs Department will receive 75% of the remainder, the DA’s Office will receive 15% and Probation 10%.
For the 2013/14 fiscal year, this means that the Sheriff’s Department will receive $638,476 rather than $1 million, the DA’s Office will receive $130,888 rather than $205,000, and Probation will receive 89,387 rather than $140,000. The Paramedics Program will receive $336,250 and the First Responders Fund will receive $150,000.
According to the resolution, “For the 2013/14 fiscal year, the dollar amount of the reduction in Prop 172 funds received by Sheriff, District Attorney and Probation as a result of the change in allocation, shall be offset (backfilled) by money from the County’s General Fund.”