‘Financial Pressure’ Builds As RivCo Supes Seek To Pad County Coffers

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The Executive Office’s 2023-24 third-quarter budget report is among the top items on the board’s agenda with discretionary revenue at $1.2 B.

Riverside County government’s income will be higher than originally expected — by almost $100 million — as the current fiscal year draws to a close, but “financial pressure” continues to build as priorities demand more outlays, according to a report that the Board of Supervisors will review Tuesday.

The Executive Office’s 2023-24 third-quarter budget report will be among the top items on the board’s agenda. It will be the final analysis of existing finances prior to the start of 2024-25 budget hearings next month.

“While the near-term financial outlook appears stable, challenges are looming in the years to come,” the EO stated in the 50-page report. “While we are projecting increases this fiscal year and next, it should be noted that the pace of growth is slowing, while costs continue to rise to maintain the status quo, let alone increase service levels. Additionally, the need to maintain or replace our aging facilities adds financial pressure.”

Aggregate discretionary revenue is projected to reach $1.224 billion, just over $80 million more than first estimated at the beginning of the current fiscal year, when officials expected inflows by June to total $1.14 billion.

According to the report, property tax revenue, motor vehicle in lieu of property taxes and interest earnings on county treasury pool investments are all coming in at higher levels, driven in part by inflation.

There was no reference in the third-quarter update to the state’s sizable budget deficit, which the California Legislative Analyst’s Office estimated to be $68 billion, and how that may impact funding levels for a number of state-supported programs countywide going into 2024-25.

The board generally has a free hand in allocating discretionary funds, as opposed to programmed, or non-discretionary, appropriations, which are earmarked for a range of social, health and other budget mechanisms.

The 2023-24 budget is roughly 15% larger than 2022-23’s, which was about $7.45 billion.

A bright line in the midyear budget report issued in February was that aggregate reserves would likely reach $677 million, as opposed to the initial prediction of $555 million, by June.

The county received almost $500 million in 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief & Economic Security Act allocations and another $480 million in 2021 American Rescue Plan Act money. Just under 10% of the federal infusions have been applied to “budget stabilization.” Some of the revenue remains available and is being allocated to community development and related programs.

The funds were previously used for homeless and rental assistance programs, along with other social welfare efforts, but they’ve also been appropriated for capital improvement projects.

Hearings on the proposed 2024-25 fiscal year budget are slated for June 10-11.

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