New Budget Doesn’t Tackle Wage Stagnation
Bakersfield, California has approved a $2.6-billion budget for the 2017-2018 fiscal year, but the budget does little to address long-term problems that have plagued the community, like a budget deficit and a near-decade-long stagnation in county workers’ wages.
“[The] costs are like a cancer that keeps growing and it’s eating away at our other funding sources just like a cancer would eat at healthy tissue,” said Board Chairman Zack Scrivner at the budget approval meeting.
“There has been a disparity, and that disparity between the increase in the cost of living and our increase in our employee salaries…we know that we have not been keeping up with that and that’s a source of frustration for us,” said the second-district supervisor.
The budget passed unanimously, despite earlier rumblings and opposition from other groups in the county. The new budget outlined a $59.3-million decrease from last year, marking another county that is struggling to balance its budget.
Even with those cuts, the county still faces a general fund deficit of $19.8 million and a fire fund deficit of $8.5 million.
Bakersfield has been the victim of falling oil prices. The county, alongside many other counties, cities, and even entire states across the country, has been severely damaged by the decrease in oil prices. Many of these communities relied on oil and gas to help fund their budgets, but with oil being priced so low at the moment, they’ve had to make up the lost revenue via cuts.
If oil remains low and Bakersfield is unable to find an alternative source of revenue, then wages will likely continue to remain flat for county workers and deficits will continue to be run, eventually resulting in the shedding of services.
“Supervisors approve $2.6B budget, acknowledge workers’ stagnant salaries,” KernGoldenEmpire.com, August 29, 2017.