County’s budget still looking OK |

County’s budget still looking OK

Nevada County’s budget is healthy despite a slower economy and a lean state budget, county officials reported Tuesday.

But the county will have to chip in for employee retirement benefits next year, posing a drain on the budget, and some human services programs are being impacted by state budget cuts.

The county’s revenues for the last fiscal year – which ended June 30 – were modestly better than expected, said Joe Christoffel, the county’s chief fiscal officer.

Revenues exceeded expenditures by $2.4 million in the last fiscal year. That includes $1.3 million that is the result of a mandated change in accounting.

Discretionary revenue for the latest quarter, which ended Sept. 30, didn’t dip much despite a slow economy – $1,082,012 compared with $1,147,160 during the same period a year earlier.

Interest income was down sharply, as expected in a tight financial market, and sales tax revenues were flat. However, a strong real estate market has helped property taxes and transfer fees.

The positive numbers allowed the county to boost its reserves from $6 million to $8 million, Christoffel said.

That could come in handy next year, when CalPERS retirement funding is expected to take a bite out of the county budget for the first time in years.

In recent years, a bull market in stocks paid the bill for retirement benefits without contributions from counties. But the decline in the stock market will mean an end to that free ride.

Next year, the county might have to resume contributions to the retirement fund, which could amount to several percent of county salaries.

Each percentage point amounts to $440,000-$450,000, said


The county will have more exact figures in November, when CalPERS issues an actuarial report for the county.

County officials have been warily eying the pared-down state budget for its impact on local programs.

So far, the state’s budget cuts have mainly hit the Behavioral Health Department and Adult and Family Services.

While the total dollar amount of the cuts is unavailable – some of it was described as a moving target and difficult to calculate at this point – some figures emerged from Tuesday’s hearing.

Behavioral Health expects to see a reduction of $150,000 from last year for a group of children’s programs, said Robert Erickson, director of the Behavioral Health Department.

A $27,000 annual allocation for special education students might not be available for three years. The department may also have to pick up a share of the growth of Early and Periodic Screening Diagnosis and Treatment programs.

Phil Reinheimer, director of Adult and Family Services, gave no dollar figures for state cuts.

He said Heathy Family Outreach grants are canceled, and Health Family programs have been cut back.

Cuts in MediCal and food stamp programs were covered by money saved through a hiring freeze, said Reinheimer.

“In our department and in our agency, a rather harsh freeze has been imposed for some time in anticipation of the fact that we were going to need those savings,” he said.

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