The Placer County Board of Supervisors held a workshop Tuesday on the county’s priorities and challenges for 2013-14, taking its first official step in the county’s budget-development process for next fiscal year.
“Tuesday’s workshop creates a foundation for March budget discussions and answering the question: what is the most reasonable balance of countywide priorities and available resources for 2013-14 and beyond?” explained County Executive Officer David Boesch.
A recurring theme throughout the three-hour workshop was the need to maintain a sustainable approach to operations in the coming years that ensures the county uses its limited resources to meet high-priority public-service needs. Placer County’s revenue outlook is gradually improving, but not fast enough to keep pace with likely cost increases.
The workshop provided a forum for board members to hear from departments about the challenges facing them and their priorities.
“I think there were several reoccurring themes today,” Board Chairman Jim Holmes said at the end of the workshop.
“Certainly succession planning. To a heightened degree, the impacts of state and federal programs that are coming down on counties, which in turn lead to increased staffing that is related to both of those items. I think those are the priorities we have to really look at and see where we are going to be able to allocate our resources in the post-recession economy.”
The County Executive Office will meet with departments in the coming days to analyze in more detail the budget requests presented to the board Tuesday. Those meetings will help the CEO budget team develop for board review a balanced budget proposal for 2013-14 and a framework for ensuring that revenues and costs remain in balance in the following years.
“One of the keys to long-term sustainability is to align priorities as closely and clearly as possible within a policy-based budget framework,” said Finance and Budget Operations Manager Graham Knaus. “Today’s workshop is the first big step in making that happen for the upcoming year.”
The workshop was an integral part of the county’s drive to:
· Identify and confirm countywide priorities to ensure the appropriate distribution of resources;
· Make the budget-development process more transparent so it is easier for the public to provide input;
· Maintain the long-term sustainability of county operations through a multi-year budget strategy; and
· Make the transition over the next several years to priority-based budgeting, an approach proposed by CEO Boesch that focuses on making certain the county’s limited resources are used for the high-priority programs and services.
Both the long-term strategy and priority-based budgeting are cornerstones of the county’s efforts to effectively meet public services needs, fulfill board priorities and be well positioned to withstand a future economic downturn. They are consistent with long-standing board strategies that emphasize long-term planning and cost containment and complement policies adopted by the board in 2003 that call for conservative budgeting so the county has flexibility to successfully deal with revenue and cost fluctuations.
The county uses a two-phase budget development process each year. The first phase is focused on adopting a proposed budget during June so the county has an interim spending plan in place when the new fiscal year begins July 1. In the second phase, the board typically holds a series of workshops in August before adopting a final budget in September that reflects updated revenue and expenditure estimates.
Budget documents for the 2013-14 fiscal year, including all materials for the Priorities Workshop, will be posted on the county website at www.placer.ca.gov. Use the “County Budget” link in the upper left corner of the home page to view budget documents.