The Riverside County Board of Supervisors adopted a $4.7 billion budget for fiscal year 2013-14, which began July 1. The new budget is about $278 million less than the 2012-13 level. However, the board’s discretion applies to only $630 million.
This year, County Executive Jay Orr projects discretionary county revenue will grow by $19 million to $588 million, the first revenue boost since fiscal year 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 value. 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 of unexpended funds from the 2012-13 fiscal year and available this year, and another $14 million from reserves.
“Over the next fiscal year, the drive to increase operating efficiencies countywide will continue while we strive to achieve more with less,” Orr wrote to the board.
He identified four major initiatives to be implemented during this year and the near future: the Affordable Care Act, construction of the East County detention center, increases reserves and providing adequate public safety resources.
The financial problems confronting the county’s Regional Medical Center will come to the board later this month. Orr plans a board workshop Sept. 23 to present a consultant’s review of the hopital’s operations. In 2012-13, its operating deficit was $10 million and the losses will continue.
The sheriff, 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.