The Colusa County Board of Supervisors approved a recommended budget for fiscal year 2022/23 during a special meeting June 30, the last day of the fiscal year, which includes significant reductions in department budgets, large dips into reserve funds and possible salary reductions and hiring freezes for county employees.
According to County Administrative Officer Wendy Tyler, the total budget – including the general fund, special revenue funds, enterprise funds, internal services funds, county service areas, dependent special districts and other restricted funds – totals $134,996,300 with a general fund component of $38,340,700.
Total expenditures are projected to be $116 million, with the gap in revenue and expenditures bridged by $6.9 million in various Social Services, Behavioral Health Services and Road Department special revenues; $8.9 million in anticipated general fund cash balance forward; and $2.5 million in reserves, according to Tyler.
Tyler said the total budget has increased by 11.4%, or $13.7 million, over last fiscal year’s final adopted budget while the general fund has also increased by 1.35%, or $509,500.
“Revenues from tax rolls has increased nearly 6%, however, we are experiencing reduced revenues in the unitary and mill taxes,” said Tyler. “While mill tax reduction is a direct result of the drought, and we are hopeful that it will rebound to pre-drought levels in the coming years, the unitary tax reduction is a permanent reduction of approximately $1.7 million to general fund revenue commencing with fiscal year 2021/22 and continuing every year forward.”
The significant reductions made in requested budgets allotted through the general fund include an absence of funding for East Park Reservoir and for the Colusa County Resource Conservation District.
“Unless a fixed asset is funded by a special or restricted revenue source other than the general fund, it has been cut from the budget with very few exceptions,” said Tyler.
Cuts have also been made to office expenses, postage, publications, transportation, travel, training and more, said Tyler, as well as a 3% reduction to salaries and benefits for county employees. With these cuts, Tyler said it was still necessary to utilize reserves to fund existing expenditures.
“That said, there remains much analysis and difficult decisions to be made before we reach a balanced final budget in September,” said Tyler.
Contingencies for unanticipated expenses also have significantly decreased this year, with an allotted $410,800 in the recommended budget.
“I am confident that departments will do their best to stay within their budgeted appropriations, however, unanticipated expenditures could occur, and departments have been left with little discretionary funding in their budget,” said Tyler.
Salaries for full-time county employees make up 36.3% of the total budget, according to Tyler, which is an increase of 6.4% over the previous year’s final adopted budget, an increase that Tyler attributed to a 3% cost of living increase and increases in CalPERS retirement rates and funding toward the Unfunded Accrued Liability with CalPERS.
Tyler also noted that the county was notified on June 14 that medical insurance rates are projected to increase 18% in the last half of the fiscal year and this increase has not been factored into the budget at this time.
According to Tyler, the recommended budget also includes the purchase of four new patrol vehicles for the sheriff’s department, funded through Rural Law Enforcement funds, and a new truck for Animal Control funded with Realignment and Rural Law Enforcement funds.
Other major expenditures in the recommended budget include a payment for the Sites Reservoir Project, funding for the construction of the new jail facility, the re-roofing of the Plaza Building and repairs to the historic courthouse elevator.
Items carried over from the 2021/22 fiscal year budget include renovations of the adult residential facility as proposed by Behavioral Health, completion of the re-flooring of the Behavioral Health campus, mobile medical clinics, the purchase of water tanks and pumps for the Emergency Household Water Program, funding for the East Park Boat Launch and installation of ADA compliant restrooms within the park and the purchase of control system software for the Colusa County Jail.
The Board of Supervisors has until Oct. 2 to adopt a final balanced budget for fiscal year 2022/23.