County supervisors begin work to balance budget

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EL CENTRO — Imperial County has begun to consider a working budget for the 2017-2018 fiscal year, as well as a proposal to balance the 2016-2017 fiscal year. On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors was presented a recommended budget, which will allow the County to continue operating until an adopted budget is in place no later than October 2. Budget hearings are scheduled for August, when County departments will present any modifications before the board.

Tuesday’s unanimous vote (5-0) for the proposed budget, which will be adjusted further, was “just to cover ourselves for a month and a half until we have the real numbers,” noted Supervisor John Renison.

Establishing a budget this year is especially difficult since the state of California has yet to adopt a budget of its own and several bills are pending that would affect the County’s resources from the state.

“This is going to be one of those tough years,” said County CEO, Ralph Cordova.

In balancing the 2016—2017 budget, an estimated carryover amount of $10 million was recognized. That deficit was in fact a carryover from the 2015-2016 budget, but was not immediately addressed in hopes that that $10,000,000 would turn up in a receipt of funds not including in the initial tally. The Board was asked to transfer funds from the Revenue Stabilization Reserve to balance that budget once it was certain the additional funds were not incoming.

“We postponed this request of additional transfer of funds because we were hoping there may have been an entry or receipt of funds that was not anticipated or included in the closing book entries,” said Cordova in a written briefing to the Board.

The County also reported a 6.1 percent and 6.2 percent increase of revenue and expenditures, respectively, from 2015-2016 to 2016-2017. This year’s revenues totaled $239,444,620 while the County’s expenditures totaled $255,829,060.

“We attribute these differences to merit increases, benefit increases, and changes in charges from Internal Service Fund departments as well as our Loss Reserves,” Cordova said.

Cordova noted his direction to the County departments to reduce excess and focus on efforts that represented the core of their designated purposes.

“Now that we’re hearing that we are going to have a difficult budget year,” said Cordova, “the direction given to department heads at the very beginning of the budget process, which we began back in January, was to make every effort to cut operating expenses by 15 percent.”

However, some departments indicated they were already at a minimum operating budget. Each department will request additional budget changes in August.

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