County Budget Officer Stewart Patri briefed the San Benito County Board of Supervisors at a special March 12 meeting on mid-year finances and revenue projections. While tax revenues totaled $7,810,769, expenses were $22,211,909.
About 86 percent of the county overtime budget has been expended, mostly for the San Benito County Sheriff’s Office, according to Patri.
Supervisor Jaime De La Cruz wondered why the overtime figure was so high. Patri explained that while the county is seeing salary savings, mainly because departments are understaffed, overtime is more than 50 percent higher than the savings.
“The sheriff would like to staff at a minimum of three deputies [on patrol per shift],” Patri said. “They are having to put a list up in the locker room every week for overtime because they don’t have those staffing levels.”
Supervisor Jim Gillio, who previously served as a public safety officer in Gilroy, explained injuries can cause shortages and increased use of overtime. Supervisor Peter Hernandez also explained that the training process of over a year also contributed to overtime.
Gillio recommended looking back at several years of overtime figures to come up with an average to determine if the amount budgeted for overtime should be increased. De La Cruz cautioned against an increase because it could lead to department heads inflating their budgets to justify a new position, rather than properly utilizing each employee. He asked which deputies get “first crack” at getting overtime. Gillio said from his experience it’s normally based on seniority.
“Usually, seniority means higher cost,” De La Cruz said.
Patri noted that Captain Eric Taylor said he has trouble filling those overtime spots, and that he himself has actually worked some. “Maybe it would be more beneficial to staff another deputy rather than paying higher overtime,” Patri said.
Gillio also said that unforeseen events can also affect overtime.
“Last year, we had at least one homicide,” Gillio said. “These things can cost tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in overtime. Our budget for overtime is $414,000. It’s almost like an unfunded liability. It’s a necessity. We have to staff these positions, but we need to have a good idea where we’re headed.”
De La Cruz suggested a “floating police officer” might be one possible solution to bring down the cost. Supervisor Anthony Botelho said the county was fortunate to have a sheriff who was cooperative concerning his budget and the reality of a shortage of deputies. Ideally, he said, there should be a minimum of four deputies on patrol at any one time, but the reality is there are only two deputies on patrol countywide.
Supervisors will resume their budget discussion at future meetings.
The budget briefing also included county tax revenues, general fund salary and benefits details, other funds salary and benefits expenditures, and general fund contingencies through Dec. 31, 2018 (see charts). Budget performance for the second quarter of FY 2018-19 included these expenditures:
General Fund $20,063,986
Special Revenue Funds $18,740,226
Capital Project Funds $9,637,085
Enterprise Funds $258,637 ............. for a total of $48,699,933, or 21 percent of the amended budget of $229,308,128.
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