Riverside County supervisors are expected today to formally approve a balanced 2012-13 fiscal year budget, though county officials cautioned that uncertainties ahead will make conservative spending a must.
"The final 2012/13 budget reflects discretionary revenue that is below
11/12 levels,'' according to a county Executive Office report. "We cannot rely
on revenue growth to balance this year's budget and, instead, must keep
spending in line with available revenue.''
The Board of Supervisors in June tentatively approved a budget blueprint
that outlined a structurally balanced budget founded on spending cuts,
consolidation and pension reform. More than 130 employees were laid off,
according to county CEO Jay Orr.
As in previous years, the Executive Office recommended that the board
postpone formal ratification of the budget to September to give county analysts
time to measure the impact of the state's budgetary plans and to adjust data in
response to Assessor-Clerk-Recorder Larry Ward's release of the fiscal year
property tax assessment roll.
The roll indicated residential and commercial property values countywide
were relatively flat, assuring the county would not suffer a precipitous loss
in property taxes.
According to the budget report, cuts aimed at closing the state's $16
billion deficit would affect court operations, but most county agencies would
be spared losses.
In a preface to the budget, Orr noted that the region appeared to be on
track for an "extended recovery'' but cautioned that spending challenges in
the form of increased labor costs tied to collective bargaining agreements
approved over the last year would pose "financial challenges'' for the county
in the months ahead.
Documents showed the county would have about $40 million in cash in the
first quarter of the fiscal year, which began July 1. County officials said
planned reductions should move ahead, including a $100,000 spending cut in the Office of the Registrar of Voters that will result in two positions being
The Department of Code Enforcement and the National Pollutant Discharge
Elimination System office will absorb about a $1.8 million cut, while the
Department of Public Social Services, which receives the bulk of its revenue
from the state and federal governments, is expected to save the county about
$1.8 million via internal reforms and lower-than-anticipated caseloads.
The Executive Office listed organizational restructuring, departmental
consolidation, jail construction and ``business-friendly'' reforms as among
county government's priorities in the current fiscal year.
Appropriations for 2012-13 total $4.67 billion, compared to $5.1 billion
in 2011-12, about a 9 percent drop. Those expenditures are covered through
federal and state ``pass-through'' funds, county discretionary money and
revenue from special districts.