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Board Gets Good News, Hears a Few Words of Caution at Budget Workshop

August 16, 2013

The Placer County Board of Supervisors heard plenty of good news and a few words of caution during a budget workshop Thursday that set the stage for adoption of a final 2013-14 budget next month.

The board is scheduled to hold a public hearing on a proposed final budget Sept. 10 and to adopt the final budget Sept. 24.

 
 David Boesch, County Executive Officer
David Boesch, County Executive Officer, is recommending a $715.2 million final budget, down 2.1 percent from the $730.2 million budget for the 2012-13 fiscal year.

Board members postponed making a decision Thursday on how to allocate more than $8 million in unallocated one-time funds, a total that includes almost $5.8 million in the County General Fund and $2.3 million in the Public Safety Fund. That decision could be made at a board meeting to be held on Tuesday, Aug. 20.

Staff is recommending that the bulk of the funds be used to help return county reserve and contingency funds to pre-recession levels.

During the workshop, Chief Assistant County Executive Officer Holly Heinzen assured the board that Placer County is well positioned to meet budget challenges for the 2013-14 fiscal year.

“We have some reasons for optimism,” she said. “At the same time, we have some reasons for caution.”

Key reasons for optimism include the county’s improving revenue picture, past board actions that have helped keep costs pressures under control and a long-standing policy that calls for maintaining prudent reserve and contingency funds.

Reasons to be cautious include cost drivers such as employee benefits, state and federal budget actions that affect counties and the need to open and operate Placer County’s new jail at the Bill Santucci Justice Center in Roseville. In May, the board approved a phasing plan that calls for opening two areas of the new 390-bed jail late in the current fiscal year.

During the workshop, the county budget team provided the board with an overview of the county’s budget outlook and key policy issues.

Departments made presentations to the board during the workshop, focusing less on budget changes than in previous years and more on programs and priorities in keeping with the county’s transition to priority-based budgeting over the next several years. Departments were encouraged to focus Thursday on how their programs serve the public and potential ways to measure their success.     

Priority-based budgeting is an approach that seeks to increase transparency in the budget process while helping ensure county resources are allocated based on board and public priorities.

Placer County uses a two-phase budget development process so it can adopt a final budget with updated revenue and expenditure estimates in September.

In June, the board approved a proposed $690.5 million budget that has served as an interim spending plan since the 2013-14 fiscal year began July 1.

The 2013-14 proposed budget and other budget documents are posted on the county website at www.placer.ca.gov. The “County Budget” link in the upper left corner of the home page can be used to view budget documents.

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