The Riverside County Board of Supervisors approved a $4.7 billion budget for fiscal year 2013-14, which begins July 1. However, only $630 million represents funds which the board had discretion to allocate.
This year, County Executive Jay Orr projects discretionary county revenue will grow by $17 million, to $586 million, the first revenue boost since fiscal 2007-08 six years ago. The county anticipates property tax revenue will increase $7 million as a result of a 3.5-percent growth in assessed valuation. Sales tax revenue is expected to rise nearly 40 percent next year.
Still, expenses exceed the revenue forecast. The projected deficit will be filled with $30 million unexpended this fiscal year and available next year, and an additional $14 million from reserves.
“The county has survived the ‘Great Recession,’” Orr wrote to the board. But he cautioned the board about assuming that the fiscal problems were eliminated. The county has to address, both this year and in the future, issues such as implementing the Affordable Care Act, prison realignment and public safety initiatives. Orr promised a five-year plan to explain how these issues could be addressed as well as beginning to re-build county reserves.
The financial problems confronting the Riverside County Regional Medical Center will be deferred until Orr has received and reviewed a consultant’s report.
The Sheriff’s Department, Fire and District Attorney’s offices will receive about $330 million of the county’s discretionary funds. Each agency absorbed the pay raises for staff, which were negotiated last year to help reduce future pension costs.
The final 2013-14 budget will be submitted to the board for adoption in September, according to Orr.