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Gridley Herald

Butte County's Quality of Life in Jeopardy

May 30, 2024 04:23PM ● By Mickey Mrakuzic

BUTTE COUNTY, CA (MPG) – The Butte County Board of Supervisors are exploring a one-cent sales tax measure on the Nov. 5, 2024 ballot and are asking for feedback.

The Herald attended one of the hosted meetings on May 15 to learn about the county’s budget challenges and impacts. In attendance were Butte County Chief Administrative Officer Andy Pickett, Butte County Library Director Misty Wright, and CAL FIRE and Sheriff’s Office representatives.

With Pickett’s experience preparing Butte County’s budgets, he expressed concern that the costs of administering services such as staffing the Sheriff’s Office and correctional officers in Butte County are increasing faster than incoming revenue.

Year after year, the Governor’s Office creates unfunded mandates causing the budget to be stretched thin. The Governor’s Office also transfers revenue from counties back to the state to cover the state’s deficit.

When Proposition 13 was passed in 1978, it limited county government’s ability to increase property taxes. The increases were capped at two percent each year. Because of Proposition 13, the growth of revenues hasn’t kept up with the cost of services, which caused a gap in the yearly budget.

When creating Butte County’s yearly budget, the gap in revenue requires cuts in services for the budget to be balanced. The county previously balanced the budget by combining similar programs, cutting non-mandated services, and cutting or reducing support services. Public safety was also reduced but still maintained core services.

After implementing all these measures throughout the years, Pickett said, the county has nothing left to eliminate to balance the budget without serious cuts to public safety. The possible cuts are closing fire stations; decreasing deputy sheriffs, probation officers and prosecutors; and eliminating the whole library system. This is why the Board of Supervisors suggested the idea of a one-cent sales tax.

According to Pickett, the proposed one-cent sales tax will generate enough revenue to stop the reduction of these services.

Pickett also stated all fire stations would be open and fully staffed, the Sheriff’s Department would be fully staffed and libraries returned to full operating hours. Pickett said this revenue is 100% local and Sacramento cannot touch these funds.

The Board of Supervisors and county officials want to hear from residents so they created an online survey at so you can say what is important to you. The officials also encourage you to share the survey with your friends and family, so they can hear from as many residents as possible.