The Knightly News: Money matters
By John Knight
District 1 supervisor
Fall has arrived and the weather has been perfect to work toward completion of several road projects as I mentioned in my last article. Thank you all for your patience and understanding.
Fall is also the final budget time for El Dorado County. The El Dorado Board of Supervisors held budget hearings in mid-September and is required to deliver a balanced budget to the state of California. Your county is required to live within its means. We are also required to enact legislated requirements set forth in the California state budget even when there may be inadequate dollars provided for those requirements. El Dorado County must have a balanced budget just like your and my family.
The budget has now become a year-round process. The board reviews the budget monthly and makes adjustments when needed. Formal budget hearings start in June for the next fiscal year and we close the books in August. The final budget version is completed in September and the board, once again, starts the process of annual development and review.
Your county’s budget is made up in the major following categories: general fund, special funds and capital projects. The total county budget is approximately $486.5 million. The budget is almost split in half between general and special funds with a small portion of funding for capital improvements. Examples of a capital improvement could be additions to building, road improvements a replacement for our animal shelter. Special funds primarily come from federal and state sources. These fund specific projects for health and human services that the county provides. Funding sources for the general fund come mainly from sales taxes and property taxes and support our sheriff, district attorney and many other departments.
In terms of spending, and in this current economy, the county spends the majority of its annual revenue after setting aside funds for contingency and replacement of equipment. An example of a contingency would be if the county had to replace major equipment that was used for road maintenance or an unexpected breakdown in computer equipment; an example of equipment replacement might be vehicle replacement, new computers, replacement of heating and air conditioning equipment and repair and maintenance of the county’s buildings. Since I took office in 2009, your county has been able to balance the budget with very little in personnel layoffs and reduction in services. This balanced budget has been implemented despite the more than 6 percent reduction in property taxes — the county’s major source of revenue.
We have been able to accomplish this feat by prudent fiscal management provided by your county Auditor Joe Harn and the county’s executive officer, department heads and your county employees. In addition, your county has no long-term debt. Almost all employees have either frozen their salaries for the past three years or taken pay cuts and accepted a greater share of their employee benefit costs. The board has also implemented a two-tier retirement system in which any new employee will not have the same benefit package similar to longtime employees. The next time you have the opportunity please thank the county employees for the sacrifices in helping us get through this fiscal crisis while they continue their high quality work.
The financial crisis still exists here at the county. It is my opinion the budget still has a structural deficiency of at least $10 million. That means your board, along with all the county staff, must continue to look for ways to increase revenues and decrease costs.
The current balanced budget for El Dorado County submitted to the state of California may be found at edcgov.us (website). Go to departments and you can find this on the Auditor-Controller’s page under budgets.
I welcome any ideas or questions you may have on how to address fiscal issues. Please send them to me via email at [email protected] and I will make sure that staff takes a serious look at them.
I wish you and your family the safest and merriest holiday season. Until next time be well and God bless.