Today I attended the annual lunch sponsored by the Contra Council on the State of the County. Gayle B. Uilkem, the current chair of the Board of Supervisors spoke about the challenges being faced by local governments in the current economy. The Board of Supervisors recognizes the difficulty of forecasting a budget when a large portion of funding comes from the State. Right now, the county budget is balanced, with a reserve in the bank, but the county is now preparing for at least a $40 million shortfall upcoming, with the potential of more should the state renege on its responsibility for funding programs offered at the local level that have heretofore been funded with state funds. These unfunded mandates are the great unknowns, and local jurisdictions are paying attention to the current budget hearings in Sacramento, trying to learn which programs have the greatest possibility of being abandoned.
Gayle also said that she doesn't believe that we have reached the peak of foreclosures, and that housing prices are continuing to drop, even if at a slower rate than predicted. Again, this is another sign that there is increased need for county services with less opportunity to fund it through current tax and fee resources.
On a lighter note, I had forgotten how bad the "rubber chicken" circuit really is! Building a business means that I am interacting with people at a variety of events, and many of the meals verge on either inedible or so unhealthy that they shouldn't be eaten anyway. Not being a fan of chicken in any form, today's fare of a cold sliced thing was far from appealing. However, I did meet some new folks and had lunch with one of my former students, so I was glad I went.