In response to Riverside County Executive Officer Jay Orr’s initial warning in February about a threatening $100-million deficit for fiscal year 2016-17, which starts July 1, Supervisor Marian Ashley (5th District) offered a 16-point p lan to his colleagues.
Its purpose was to find ways to bridge the deficit problems until the CEO and board find long-term solutions to the growing financial issues.
The board asked Orr to assess and evaluate Ashley’s recommendations and to report back on March 29.
This is the same day the board would also receive the consultant’s report assessing the criminal justice agencies’ budgets.
In presenting the county’s assessment of Ashley’s proposals, Paul McDonnell, county finance director, wrote “A number of items are largely policy items and do not require significant additional review.”
Also, Ashley recommended creating a subcommittee to address budget matters and that has been established. Both Ashley and Supervisor John Tavaglione are its members and have already begun meeting.
Rather than adopting a full hiring freeze for all departments until July 2018, Orr recommended a position-control regime. This would allow managers to limit employee growth, yet respond to attrition during this period.
He also identified seven employee contracts that expire between June 30, 2016, and June 30, 2017. Salary increases and step raises will have to be addressed during the labor negotiations. Furloughs would be addressed after negotiations are completed.
With respect to capital improvement projects, Orr recommended delaying a decision until a 2016-17 budget is drafted and reviewed.
And he opposed the suggestion to return to a four-day work-week for all county offices. He estimated the savings to the county budget would be less than $100,000 annually.