How bad could it get? Truthfully, a lot worse.
That's the news Alameda County supervisors heard Tuesday afternoon during a forum on the 2011-2012 budget.
The session, called "The Worst is Yet to Come," was held at Fremont's main library and hosted by Supervisor Scott Haggerty, who represents Livermore, Dublin, Pleasanton, Sunol and parts of Fremont.
Another forum will be held at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Elihu Harris State Building Auditorium in Oakland.
Alameda County Administrator Susan Muranishi told the supervisors and the three dozen people in attendance that there are more cuts coming to the county's budget, which is $2.4 billion this fiscal year.
She said 45 percent of the budget's discretionary revenue goes to public-safety programs. Seventeen percent goes to health-care programs, 13 percent to public assistance and 10 percent to general government operating expenses.
Muranishi noted that the county has cut $152 million in the past year by freezing hiring and reducing programs. However, she said, 70 percent of those cuts were one-time savings that can't be repeated in the next fiscal year.
"We've been cutting throughout the year," she said.
The supervisors were told the proposed federal and state budgets would further reduce the amount of funds local agencies receive.
Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed $12 billion in cuts to the state budget next year. If voters reject a June ballot measure to extend temporary tax hikes, $13 billion more in cuts would have to be made.
Supervisors were told those cuts would further reduce funding for child care, affordable housing and mental health programs. In addition, cuts to health-care programs might limit recipients' doctor visits and prescriptions. Someone on long-term treatment such as dialysis could face life-or-death decisions.
"We're hearing some pretty tough stuff out there," Haggerty said.
Muranishi said it's fortunate the county has negotiated new agreements with its labor unions to reduce costs.
She said county officials expect to have a tentative budget by mid-April with a projected deficit. The final balanced budget must be approved by July 1.