The FY 17/18 budget establishes $5.5 billion in appropriations for Riverside County, a decrease of 2.2 percent from FY 16/17 budgeted spending levels. Overall estimated revenue is projected to increase to $5.2 billion, a decrease of 0.9 percent. The difference is backed with use of fund balance, net assets, and reserves.
The FY 17/18 budget includes $3.2 billion in general fund appropriations, comprising 58 percent of the overall budget. General fund discretionary revenue continues to show modest growth. Estimated discretionary revenue is projected to increase $22.6 million over the current forecast to $752.5 million in FY 17/18. This 3 percent increase is due primarily to modestly rising property-related tax revenues and less one-time revenues. Discretionary spending decreased to $756 million. Of that, an appropriation for general fund contingency is budgeted at $20 million, or 2.6 percent of discretionary revenue.
The gap between discretionary revenue and discretionary spending is covered by departmental reserves and anticipated draw from the reserve for budget stabilization.
In response to the Governor’s January budget proposal that included shifting significant costs for In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) back to counties, the Executive Office cut net county cost allocations by 6.5 percent to achieve the $42 million in savings necessary to cover those cost. Departments prepared and submitted their budgets factoring in these cuts and, with only a few exceptions, nearly all departments were able to absorb them. Departments achieved this largely through a combination of draws on departmental reserves and deletion of primarily vacant positions. Overall, this budget includes deletion of 1,332 currently authorized positions, a reduction of 5.1 percent from the currently authorized level as of May 2017.
The budget process is year round, beginning with development of internal service rates in the fall and culminating with approval of the adopted budget. Budget amendment takes place throughout the fiscal year with a 4/5ths vote threshold, and significant changes coincident with the approval of quarterly budget reports.
In the first quarter report, the Executive Office presents budget guidelines for the next fiscal year based on economic indicators, revenue forecasts, and Board of Supervisors priorities. Internal service rates are developed based on anticipated operating budgets for the next fiscal year in accordance with Board policy.
In the midyear report, the Executive Office updates projected budget conditions. Internal service rates are also presented for approval. The Executive Office distributes Board budget policies, priorities, and information about budget targets, deadlines, and rates to departments.
Departments submit budget requests to the Executive Office for consideration in March. If economic conditions allow, departments submit new capital improvement project requests to the Executive Office. Due to financial constraints, new projects are limited.
The Executive Office presents the third quarter report in May, including a current year budget status, economic forecasts, and previews budget considerations for the following fiscal year.
The Executive Officer presents the recommended budget to the Board for approval. The Board holds budget hearings and provides direction on policy decisions.
The Executive Office prepares amendments to the recommended budget addressing the direction given by the Board during budget deliberations. The year-end closing process begins in July, establishing the ending fund balances that roll forward to begin the budget year.
Once year-end balances are complete, the Board adopts the budget as amended. The Executive Office finalizes the adopted budget for publication, which is submitted to the State Controller before December 1 in accordance with the County Budget Act (Government Code §§29000-29144 and §30200).
Overall, the FY 17/18 budget contains $5.5 billion in total appropriations across all funds, a net decrease of 2.2 percent from the FY 16/17 current budgeted levels. Broken out by function, the largest sector of overall county appropriations is $1.6 billion for public protection at 29.5 percent, reflecting a net decrease from current spending of 2.4 percent, followed closely by $1.4 billion for health and sanitation at 24.9 percent, reflecting an increase of 4.6 percent, and $1.2 billion for public assistance at 21.2 percent, reflecting a decrease of 2.5 percent. These three functions comprise 76 percent of total appropriations. General government comprises only 16.9 percent of all appropriations at $924 million, a net decrease of 10.3 percent, while all others combined comprise only 7.5 percent.
Broken out by spending category, 39.5 percent of overall appropriations are for salaries and benefits, with 27.7 percent for services and supplies, and 23.4 percent for other charges, such as public aid and debt service. Just 2.6 percent of overall appropriations are for acquisition of fixed assets, and 0.3 percent of the overall budget is set aside for general fund contingency.
The county uses Budget Schedule 20 to amend the authorized position levels in Ordinance No. 440 in conjunction with annual appropriations. The FY 17/18 budget recommends a total of 24,559 authorized positions, a 5.1 percent net decrease of 1,332 positions from the currently authorized level as of May 2017. This net reduction is principally due to departments shedding vacant positions as expected in response to funding cutbacks. Additional summary analyses are provided below. Further details regarding requested and recommended position authorization are summarized in the departmental narratives, and provided by budget unit and job classification in Schedule 20.
As of May 2017, 19,725 regular, full-time positions were filled and 6,166 were vacant. On a percentage basis, 76 percent of regular positions authorized were filled, and 24 percent remained vacant. Of those vacant, 33 percent are in public assistance, 30 percent in public protection, and 27 percent in health and sanitation, while only 8 percent are in general government. Vacant positions may not need funding for a full fiscal year, if at all. The Executive Office continues analyzing vacant position levels for opportunities to achieve further cost savings.
The FY 17/18 budget includes $5.2 billion in estimated revenues across all funds, a 0.9 percent net decrease from FY 16/17 budget estimates. By function, general government is projected to collect $1.5 billion, or 28.7 percent of estimated revenues, a decrease of 6.3 percent. It should be noted that general government departments are responsible for collecting the bulk of the county’s general purpose revenue, which causes the amount of revenue attributed to that functional group to be disproportionate to their appropriations, which are minor by comparison. Such revenues include property taxes, sales and use taxes, and public safety sales tax. Health and sanitation is projected to collect $1.9 billion, or 23.4 percent of the total, for a net increase of 4.3 percent, public assistance is projected to receive $1.1 billion, or 20.6 percent, a net reduction of 2.7 percent, and public protection is projected to collect $1 billion, or 19.8 percent, a net increase of 3 percent. The other functional areas together comprise only 7.5 percent of all estimated revenue.
Of total revenues across all funds, 45.5 percent is intergovernmental state and federal revenues, charges for current services comprise 32.5 percent, and taxes comprise only 8.2 percent. Minor revenue sources comprising the balance include licenses, permits and franchises; use of money and property; and fines, penalties, and forfeitures projected.
The county general fund is the principal operational fund, comprising 58 percent of total appropriations. The FY 17/18 budget includes $3.2 billion in general fund appropriations, an overall decrease of 0.3 percent from the current budget. Public protection accounts for the largest portion, totaling $1.4 billion, or 43 percent, reflecting a spending decrease of 1.6 percent. A total of $992 million, or 31.2 percent, is for public assistance programs, which is down 1.7 percent, and another $601 million, or 18.9 percent, supports health and sanitation services, reflecting a net increase of 6.6 percent. General government services account for only 6.9 percent, at just over $219 million, a net decrease of 3.6 percent.
Broken out by spending category, 47 percent of overall appropriations are for salaries and benefits, with 23.4 percent for other charges, such as public aid and debt service and 22.7 percent for services and supplies. Just 0.4 percent of overall appropriations are for acquisition of fixed assets, and 0.6 percent of the general fund budget is set aside for contingencies.
The budget projects $3.2 billion in estimated general fund revenue, a net increase of 1.6 percent. By function, public assistance is projected to receive $946 million, or 30 percent of general fund revenue, a net revenue reduction of 2.1 percent. Public protection is projected to collect $856 million, or 27.2 percent, a net revenue increase of 4.5 percent. General government is projected to collect $816 million, or 25.9 percent of estimated general fund revenues, a slight revenue decrease of 0.2 percent. As noted above, general government departments are responsible for collecting the bulk of the county’s general purpose revenue, causing the amount of revenue attributed to that functional group to be disproportionate to their appropriations. Such revenues include property taxes, sales and use taxes, and public safety sales tax. Health and sanitation is projected to collect $518 million, or 16.5 percent of general fund revenue, reflecting a net revenue increase of 6.7 percent. The other functional areas together comprise only 0.4 percent of all estimated general fund revenues.
Broken out by revenue category, $2 billion, or 64.6 percent, of estimated general fund revenue is from the state or federal governments, a net revenue increase of 1.2 percent. Charges for current services, such as fire and police services to contract cities, comprise $563 million or 17.9 percent, a net revenue increase of 6 percent. Taxes comprise $301 million, or 9.6 percent, and reflect no net change over current estimates. All other revenues comprise just 8 percent of the general fund total.
Overall, county spending is dominated by mandated core functions such as health, welfare, and criminal justice, which are heavily supported by purpose-restricted state and federal subventions. While having fiduciary responsibility for oversight of the entire county budget, the Board of Supervisors has discretionary spending authority over a limited amount of the county's overall financial resources.
The Board alone decides how general fund discretionary revenue will be spent. Only 24 percent of the county’s FY 17/18 estimated general fund revenue is discretionary, with the remaining 76 percent comprised of purpose-restricted sources such as state and federal revenues. Discretionary general fund revenues are estimated in part on internal projections based on revenue history and on reports from independent economists hired by the county to provide economic forecasts.
As summarized below, FY 17/18 general fund discretionary revenue is estimated at $752.5 million, a 2 percent decrease of $6.5 million from the FY 16/17 adopted budget estimate. Of total discretionary revenues, 77 percent are driven primarily by growth in property values. The year-over-year changes reflected in interest earnings are due to interest rate increases by the Federal Open Market Committee. This if further discussed below under the interest earnings section. The largest change is a one-time adjustment made in FY 16/17 to reclassify a health realignment source as non-discrectionary.
The Executive Office prepares multi-year discretionary funding forecasts to set the context for major policy decisions of an ongoing nature. This multi-year approach enables the long-range planning and fiscal discipline necessary to achieve and maintain a structurally balanced budget with adequate reserves (Board policy sets the reserve request at 25 percent of revenue.)
FY 2018 - 2019 Adopted Budget
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FY 2016 - 2017 Adopted Budget
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Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR)
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Statement of Investment Policy
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