The Placer County Board of Supervisors will consider adopting a proposed budget Tuesday that will serve as an interim spending plan once the 2012-13 fiscal year begins July 1.
Adopting a proposed budget would complete the first phase of the county’s two-phase budget development process. The board will hold budget workshops in August before completing the second phase: adoption of a final budget.
The two-phase approach allows the county to wait until September to adopt a final budget that includes updated revenue and expenditure estimates.
In a report for Tuesday’s meeting, Interim County Executive Officer Holly Heinzen emphasizes that the $690 million proposed budget will preserve core services to the public, but notes the county continues to face budget challenges in such areas as library services, fire protection, deferred building maintenance and capital infrastructure needs.
“The board’s proactive measures over recent years have enabled Placer County to remain fiscally healthy throughout the prolonged recession that began in 2007,” Heinzen explains. “The board has reprioritized declining revenues to preserve core service levels, and instituted measures to control cost growth, including a hiring freeze and greater employee cost sharing of health benefits and pension costs.”
In March, the board directed county staff to develop a multi-year budget strategy as part of its ongoing drive to strengthen the county’s fiscal health while ensuring that board short-term and long-term priorities are met.
A draft strategy will be presented to the board within the next couple of months. The plan will look at ways to:
- Reprioritize revenues to more fully implement board priorities;
- Pursue strategies that allow the county to best meet resident needs with limited resources;
- Reduce the use of one-time revenues for ongoing operations; and
- Increase the General Fund reserve to position the county to withstand the next economic downturn.
The proposed budget is $59.2 million lower, 7.9 percent, than the 2011-12 budget, largely due to a $53.9 million reduction in the county Infrastructure Budget. Infrastructure funding was higher a year ago because of two major projects: a seismic retrofit and paint job under way on the Foresthill Bridge and construction of a jail at the county’s Bill Santucci Justice Center in Roseville.
Heinzen notes that the county expects its property tax revenue to drop by 1.1 percent next fiscal year. That would result in a cumulative loss of $16.4 million, or 12.4 percent, in property tax revenue since the 2007-08 fiscal year.
Since 2007, General Fund revenue has dropped $17.8 million, or 4.8 percent, and the size of the county workforce is down 15.4 percent to approximately 2,150 filled positions as a result of the hiring freeze.
The staff report notes that revenues are on the rise in some areas. The county, for example, anticipates a $4.0 million increase in Public Safety Sales Tax revenue during 2012-13.
The proposed budget includes funding for several capital projects, including Applegate sewer improvements, Dry Creek Park and a new animal shelter in Auburn.
At Tuesday’s meeting, the board also will receive an update on proposed state legislation that could impact Placer County. County staff currently is monitoring about 30 bills in consultation with Peterson Consulting, the company that serves as the county’s advocate in Sacramento.
Many of the bills being tracked by Placer County deal with the dissolution of redevelopment agencies, public safety realignment and pension reform.
In January, the board adopted a 2012 legislative platform, a 27-page report that identifies issues important to the county that are the focus of it advocacy efforts in Sacramento and Washington, D.C.
At the state level, Placer County’s advocacy efforts focus partly on gaining flexibility, additional revenue and constitutional protections for public safety realignment. Other issues of note include the proposed Placer County Conservation Plan, potential relief from a new state fire prevention fee, possible relief from wastewater compliance timelines and opposition to any moves to reduce or eliminate state funding for county programs.
Tuesday’s meeting will take place at 9 a.m. in the County Administrative Center, 175 Fulweiler Ave. in Auburn. The proposed budget is set for discussion at 9:30 a.m.