COUNTY — Based on budget requests from departments, the County needs to close a $2.5 million to $4 million gap to balance the budget for the coming fiscal year.
County Budget Director Emily Jackson presented to the Board of Supervisors on Feb. 26 an update on the current outlook for next year’s budget.
Based on status-quo budget requests submitted to the County Administrative Office by departments in January, County expenses are still expected to outpace incoming revenue by a range of about $2.5 million to $4 million, Jackson said. While this is less than what was projected in October during the financial forecast presentation to the Board of a gap of $5 million to $10 million, it still presents a challenge.
This gap includes $2 million of General Fund for capital projects (which includes public safety communications and information technology improvements), $6 million for maintenance projects (which includes a countywide seismic evaluation and various repairs and renovations for County libraries), and $7.1 million for pavement management (more than is required under SB 1). Additional funding requests from departments for program and service growth totaled $5.2 million and 26.25 full-time equivalent positions.
“We are legally required to have a balanced budget,” Jackson added. “Fortunately, we have strategies and approaches for accomplishing that in years when our expenses are expected to outpace our incoming revenue.”
The County Administrative Office will continue to review requested status-quo budgets and requested changes to departmental budgets, working with departments and the Board to close the gap. The County will balance the budget using use a variety of strategies and approaches including, but not limited to:
Continuing the hiring chill, which slows down the rate at which the County fills vacant positions in order to save costs in the current fiscal year and roll over those savings to cover expenses in the next fiscal year.
Tightening departmental budgets.
Using one-time reserves earmarked to fund a portion of the capital and maintenance projects for County facilities.
Staff plans to introduce the CAO’s recommended balanced budget to the Board in May, with a budget hearing and adoption in June.