(Appeal-Democrat (Marysville, CA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) June 21--A projected $691,000 deficit in Yuba County's 2014-15 general fund budget can likely be addressed without cuts in service or employee layoffs, the county's top administrator said this week.
Robert Bendorf said Thursday that expected carryover from this year's budget or possibly the use of $1.6 million in one-time funds should make up the deficit and see the county through the coming year.
Bendorf called the spending plan a "status quo" budget.
County supervisors will get their first crack at the 2014-15 budget during Tuesday's board meeting. They are scheduled to discuss and adopt the proposed budget at 1:30 p.m. in the county Government Center, 915 Eighth St., Marysville.
Final budget hearings will be scheduled for later this summer.
While the total county budget is projected to increase from $175.3 million to $189.6 million for 2014-15, the board only has control over the $25.2 million general fund. State and federally funded social services programs make up $64.1 million of the county's overall budget.
The overall increase is mainly due to large capital projects (such as a new Feather River Boulevard interchange), a slight increase in the general fund and nongeneral fund revenues, Bendorf said.
"There is no doubt that one day we will be back to our previous local revenue and service levels," Bendorf said in his budget message, referring to continuing declines over the past five years. "Until that day, our charge has been and will continue to be to work smarter, strive to be more efficient and ultimately become better stewards of the public trust."
The spending plan holds the line on county services and calls for one layoff, the reduction of an information technology department position due to restructuring in that office. It adds a water resources manager position to comply with state and federal standards, along with several state-funded hires for health and human services programs.
There are no cuts projected at Yuba County Library, which took the brunt of local service reductions last year with two layoffs and a slashing of hours that the Marysville-based facility is open to the public.
Bendorf pointed to a projected $967,000 in salary increases and a $168,000 jump in health benefits as primary reasons for the general fund deficit. Those numbers could change once ongoing labor negotiations with county employees are concluded.
Property and sales taxes are forecast to increase about $440,000 and $100,000, respectively, from last year. And reserves are expected to increase from $1.45 million to $1.75 million.
Bendorf explained that a projected $1.2 million carryover -- money budgeted in 2013-14 that was not spent during the year -- should make up the deficit once accounting books are closed in July or August.
If there isn't adequate carryover, Bendorf said one-time funds totaling $1.6 million -- including $1.2 million of revenues from properties auctioned off by the county -- can be used to close the gap.
But Bendorf also said it is preferable not to use one-time funds to balance the budget.
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