40% of Biggest Counties in U.S. Face Budget Shortfalls

<i> From Associated Press</i>

Four of every 10 populous counties in the nation face budget shortfalls, and California is near the top of the list, the National Assn. of Counties reported Wednesday.

More than 70% of counties in California, Maryland and New York are in the red.

“There is in fact a major fiscal crisis throughout the nation,” said Kaye Braaten, president of the association.


Nationwide, 443 counties are in the over-100,000 population category, and the association’s survey showed that their average budget shortfall was $8.3 million.

In California, 12 counties recorded shortfalls of well over $10 million:

Alameda, $66.1 million; Orange, $65.3 million; Santa Clara, $49 million; San Diego, $40 million; Sacramento, $30 million; Riverside, $25 million; Santa Barbara, $22.5 million; Kern, $20 million; Shasta, $17.5 million; Ventura, $13 million, and Stanislaus, $12 million.

Los Angeles County has a $20-million shortfall.

Topping the list nationally were Philadelphia County in Pennsylvania, with a $219-million deficit, New York County with $100 million, and two Maryland suburbs of Washington--Montgomery County with an $85-million shortfall and Prince George’s County with $80 million.

Parris N. Glendening, county executive for Prince George’s County, criticized federal and state governments for adding to the counties’ burdens by ordering programs but not providing enough money to pay for them.

“We ask that federal and state officials not solve societal problems simply by passing on obligations to local government without the means to pay for them,” he said. “And we ask them not to solve their budget problems by cutting funding for local governments.”

Examples of shifted burdens include such costly services as special education, clean water, access for the disabled, storm water management, recycling and landfill reclamation.

Braaten said the new survey follows a report earlier this year that found that 53% of counties with populations larger than 100,000 will be forced to increase taxes.