While the Riverside County budget for fiscal 2013-14 (ending June 30) is slightly improving, County Executive Jay Orr is recommending that the Board of Supervisors use nearly $13 million from its contingency funds to augment this year’s revenues.
He estimated that discretionary revenue may be nearly $33 million (or about 5 percent) greater than the original estimate.
In his third quarter report to the Board, Orr notes several positive examples of budget issues. For example, the Riverside County Regional Medical Center’s operating loss dropped by nearly $10 million. But it still projects to be nearly $43 million.
Orr is optimistic that RCRMC’s new management team and its consultant will find additional cost-saving measures. To date, they are recommending actions that could net the center nearly $65 million in one-time or ongoing expenses.
Another major improvement was that the Sheriff’s Department lowered its projected shortfall from $39 million to $29 million. Orr specifically recommended the use of $10 million from contingency funds for the sheriff.
Even the fire department will need an additional $2 million due to unanticipated overtime, the new communications system and labor costs.
Projection of the direction of future revenues is mixed, Orr reported. While residential building permit activity dropped sharply in the second quarter, commercial and industrial building permits increased over the past three months and from 2012.
Still, the Sheriff’s Department future budget was granted about half the costs needed to achieve the board’s goal of 1.2 deputies per 1,000 residents in the County’s unincorporated neighborhoods, such as Idyllwild. But Orr commented, “Additional funding will be provided as needed.”