After a quarter of the fiscal year, the Riverside County budget problems have not improved and are slightly worse, according to interim County Executive Larry Parish. More importantly, Parish’s future assessment includes nothing optimistic for next year.
In the first quarter report to the Board of supervisors, Parish wrote, “Looking to next year, our county continues to face a stubborn deficit, projected at $80 million, largely the result of an economy unlike any I have ever seen.
“Property taxes have declined near to FY 04/05 [July 1, 2004 through June 30, 2005] levels,” he added. “In fact we must accept lower annual discretionary revenue as the new reality.”
County revenue continues to be strangled by the collapsed real estate market. Not only have home sales declined, reducing revenue, but assessments continue to fall which reduces revenue from all properties.
The current year property tax revenues may fail to meet June estimates, but Parish warned the board that the 2012-2013 revenues “... will likely be flat next year – though they could fall further under continued drag from foreclosures.”
While Parish wants to as many options as possible to close the deficit, he is also evaluating “policy decisions made since FY 04/05 to identify where operations expanded during the housing bubble and where spending priorities should be reconsidered.”
Although county revenues have fallen nearly $200 million in the past five years, county discretionary expenses remain $200 million greater than at the end of fiscal year 2005.
Parish projected his evaluation would be given to the board in January as part of the mid-year review and just before beginning the fiscal year 2012-12 budget preparation.