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Proposed final county budget includes $14.2M increase in spending
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The Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors will consider a 2016-17 Recommended Final Budget that sees increases in both expenditures and revenue for the year.
The 2016-2017 Recommended Final Budget reflects $1,133,223,670 in appropriations - up $14.2 million from the Adopted Proposed Budget - and $1,090,451,186 in estimated revenue - up by approximately $8.9 million from the proposed budget.
The County will be using fund balance and retained earnings in several areas to balance the Recommended Final Budget. Net county cost savings of $4.1 million has been added to the Recommended Final Budget and a total of $42.7 million in balancing funds are proposed.
"Our County finances remain strong and we continue to focus on the restoration of critical public safety services, careful spending and long-term sustainability," stated Stan Risen, Chief Executive Officer for Stanislaus County. "We take very seriously the stewardship of the public funds for which we have been entrusted and have used the recent improvement in our economy to retire debt early and rebuild our reserves."
Discretionary revenue is budgeted at $193.9 million in the Final Budget and is up by $3.9 million from the 2016-2017Adopted Proposed Budget.
The 2016-2017 Final Budget staffing recommendations include 43 additional positions. The Community Service Agency is requesting 23 positions that are fully funded by State and federal funds to support mandated implementation of Continuum of Care Reform to improve permanency outcomes for youth in foster care. The Parks Department is requesting to transition 16 positions that are 30-hour per week, part-time positions to full-time status. The remaining four positions are in the District Attorney's Office and supported by grant funding.
A few of the issues that impact the County budget include:
• Public Safety Services: The three-year Public Safety Restoration plan was implemented during the third quarter of the 2014-2015 Fiscal Year. The County added back 31 of the 39 authorized full-time public safety staff and five extra help staff who are providing vital services for the public. The County will continue to fund implementation of this program over this next fiscal year and increase recruitment efforts to attain and retain staff in these important positions. The Recommended Final Budget contains an additional $1 million for the early implementation of Public Safety Restoration as part of the benefit from Negative Bailout revenue. By Budget Year 2017-2018, PSR funding is forecast to be at $8 million ongoing General Fund support.
• Technology: A two-year plan was introduced at the 2015-2016 Adopted Final Budget and included $1 million in Appropriations for Contingencies for department projects that will move people from inline to more convenient online services. Also, an Automation Reserve was created with an additional $2.25 million to be used for future 21 automation projects. Nineteen projects were funded for implementation in 2015-2016.
• Roads: The County continues to be faced with a massive loss of road maintenance funds from the State that has caused the shutdown of most road resurfacing program in 2015-2016. Due to gas prices and statewide fuel consumption, the County lost more than $3 million in Highway Users Tax Account (HUTA) money which is used annually to fund the road resurfacing and maintenance program. Because of the significant revenue loss, there was no chip seal program in 2015-2016. The County should be sealing about 150 miles of road each year in order to maintain the roads over time. This loss of revenue continues to be a huge impact on the County and administration will closely watch how voters respond to the upcoming half-cent sales tax for transportation proposal going to the ballot in November of this year.
• Retirement costs: The County's retirement plan is currently one of the healthiest funded plans in the State at 75.8 percent funded using the market value of plan assets. This funded ratio is down from June 30, 2014 which was 87.5 percent, due to changes approved by the Retirement Board for the actuarial mortality and discount rate assumptions. However, it is expected that retirement costs will continue to be a significant cost driver for the County with annual increases and future changes are expected to increase the employer contribution rate by 4 to 5 percent or higher.
The Stanislaus County Fiscal Year 2016-2017 Recommended Final Budget is available for public review. It can be viewed at the Board of Supervisors Office of the County of Stanislaus at 1010 Tenth Street, Suite 6500 in Modesto. It is also available on the County's website, or at any of the 13 libraries located throughout Stanislaus County.
A Public Hearing to adopt the Fiscal Year 2016-2017 Recommended Final Budget has been scheduled for 9:05 a.m. on Aug. 30. The meeting will take place at 1010 10th Street in Modesto in the basement Board Chambers.