While county revenues are gradually improving, the budget for the current fiscal year that ends June 30 still projects deficits for each of the principal public safety agencies.
“While local economic indicators continue gradually trending positive, significant budgetary challenges lay ahead,” Riverside County Executive Officer Jay Orr said in his midyear budget report to the Board of Supervisors.
The Sheriff’s Department has been able to reduce its projected deficit from $46 million to $40 million. The District Attorney revised its projected balance from $10 million to $7.5 million. However, the Fire Department’s projected loss remains at $4.2 million.
Orr advised the board to make no changes at this point in the fiscal year. His staff is monitoring these expenses and working with the department heads.
One item of good news was that the estimated loss at the Riverside County Regional Medical Center has fallen from $18 million to $10 million.
But a major budget issue is on the horizon. One result of the passage of Proposition 47 was the transfer of costs for mental health and substance abuse patients to the county. This also includes upgrades to obtain accreditation from the National Commission on Correctional Health Care.
Orr said the county Mental Health Department is requesting 75 more positions. The current year budget change is estimated to be $2.5 million, which could grow to be $6.3 million for the full year in 2015-16.