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Nevada County: Staffing, service reductions not yet needed

John Orona
Staff Writer

BY THE NUMBERS

Nevada County total operating budget

2010: $185.4 million

2020: $257.9 million

Total property tax revenue

2010: $37.63 million

2020: $46.14 million

Total annual sales tax revenue

2010: $2.72 million

2020: $4.13 million

Total annual Transient Occupancy Tax

2010: $294,851.97

2020: $577,052

Total general fund

2010: $19.67 million

2020: $29.7 million

With the state moving into Stage Two of recovery and allowing more businesses to reopen this week, Nevada County officials say the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic is not expected to bring cuts to county staffing levels or essential services in the near future.

Instead, the county will look to reduce expenditures 5-10% across all departments, Board of Supervisors chairwoman Heidi Hall said, in an attempt to account for a projected 30-40% loss in economic activity dependent tax revenue over the next four to six months.

The county projected 2019-20 sales tax revenue to be more than $4 million, meaning the county could miss out on about $800,000 in revenue over the rest of the year, which according to the budget would fund projects like road engineering, transit services, social services, and health and human services.

According to Chief Fiscal Officer Martin Polt, the county has the ability to approach its immediate economic challenges thoughtfully thanks to disciplined fiscal planning since the Great Recession, including reducing the county’s workforce from 986 full-time equivalent employees in 2007-08 to 801 today.

“… the county is anticipating adjustments to expenditures and use of some fund balances that have been built up for these difficult times.” — Martin Polt, Nevada County chief fiscal officer

However, in the last decade the county has increasingly relied on general fund revenue, funded through local taxes, to support critical programs in core departments, budget documents state.

The county is preparing an updated budget that will go before supervisors next month that will address potential shortfalls from the impact of COVID-19.

“During these financially uncertain times and the economic impacts due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the county is anticipating adjustments to expenditures and use of some fund balances that have been built up for these difficult times,” Polt said in a statement.

While in the next two fiscal quarters sales, gas and transient occupancy tax revenue may decline, Polt said pension costs, projected to reach $30 million in the next four years, and the possibility of diminishing property taxes are perilous concerns in the long run.

CONCERNS

In the 2019-20 budget, property tax revenues at $46 million accounted for more than 18% of the county’s total funding, the second-largest revenue source next to state and federal allocations.

During the last recession, which officially began December 2007, property tax revenues were not affected immediately, with the county seeing revenues continue to increase until the 2010-11 fiscal year when they fell to $35.13 million from $37.63 million the previous year.

The next year property tax revenues fell 7.5%, resulting in a $5.5 million deficit which led the county to eliminate 32 positions after cutting 64 in the two years before.

According to the California Department of Finance Spring Outlook, in the next year median home prices could fall anywhere from 0.7-5.7%, with the a potential resurgence of COVID-19 cases and consumer confidence being driving variables.

The outlook describes fiscal challenges likely to persist for years, with state deficits projected into 2023-24 even in the most conservative estimates with a full return to economic activity by the end of the summer.

The report suggests dramatic cuts to school and county government funding could be considered if the state does not receive enough federal help to pay for things like state health programs. More than 40% of the county’s revenue — $102,543,021 — comes from federal and state sources, which helps fund departments like elections, community development, environmental health, and public safety.

The outlook also predicts unemployment rising to between 9-11% and wages decreasing 5-8% in 2021.

Gov. Gavin Newsom will release his budget revisions Thursday, which are expected to reveal a $54 billion deficit after beginning the year with a $5.6 billion surplus. The revision will inform the county’s update.

“There remains significant uncertainty about how long and deep this recession will be,” Polt said.

MORE IN THIS SERIES

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Patchwork of tenant protections intact for now

The high cost of homelessness in Nevada County

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Nevada County housing market sees increased demand, limited inventory

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Nevada County graduates consider options in wake of COVID-19

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Graduating seniors in Nevada county weigh financial, academic concerns for college

Career education program adapts to meet needs of students

‘I just want to play’: Players, coaches, ADs and officials eye safe, speedy return of high school sports

‘Should I jump into a career?’ Many questions remain for students, teachers and administrators as the future draws nearer

Nevada County middle schoolers, high school underclassmen unsure what to expect next year

Support systems for Nevada County teens go virtual during pandemic

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‘The best they could’: Nevada County Superintendent of Schools reflects on the school year, ponders what’s to come this fall

‘I can’t see the bottom now’: Administrators consider where and whether to make layoffs amid revenue shortage

‘These kids want to ball’: Youth sports organizations grapple with tough decisions regarding COVID-19 safety

Hamstrung: Nevada County summer sports scene hit hard by COVID-19 pandemic

Nevada County theaters go dark for the year

Movie theaters struggle to cover rent, utilities in an industry that typically operates with narrow profit margin

‘Planning for all of it’: Nevada City Film Festival moves online for this year’s event

Nevada County’s music festivals look to virtual events to build community, recoup finances

For Nevada County musicians, the show goes online

Nevada County artists adapt, host online galleries, concerts and workshops

Street fair cancellations in Nevada City, Grass Valley a huge economic hit

‘We are the recovery; we are essential’: Nevada County Arts Council survey reveals artists, art organizations are struggling

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Nevada County Arts Council receives $112K Tahoe Truckee Excellence in Education grant for new project

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Nevada County animal rescue groups see surge in fosters, adoptions

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Possible postponement, cancellation of Nevada County Fair would negatively impact several Nevada County nonprofits

Local nonprofits feeling the effect of canceled, postponed fundraising events due to COVID-19

Feeding Nevada County: Effort to help those hungry bolstered by partnerships between nonprofits (VIDEO)

Nevada County youth organizations adjust to public health requirements

Volunteer work faces changes at Nevada County nonprofits amid restrictions

‘Do you have reserves?’ Still much uncertainty over how nonprofits will fare in coming months, years

Government business continues in isolation during COVID-19 pandemic

Nevada County, cities collaborate to reopen safely

Wildfire prep in Nevada County continues virtually during pandemic

‘This is why we signed up’: Librarian, homeless shelter manager continue working during pandemic

Financial aid offers much-needed relief in western Nevada County for those who can get it

Grass Valley trims staff in response to COVID-19 shutdown

Nevada County: Staffing, service reductions not yet needed

Nevada County property tax on par despite pandemic

Nevada County health workers say they currently have sufficient supply of personal protective equipment

Hospice of the Foothills continues providing end-of-life care during COVID-19 crisis

Senior care facilities on lockdown during COVID-19 pandemic

Residents of Nevada County senior living communities staying connected

‘Continue to plan and prepare’: Hospital analyzes finances, anticipates federal funding to ensure financial stability

Nurses in Nevada County and the region talk about why they love their jobs

Nevada County not planning to release more detailed COVID-19 case data

Officials: Testing is key in calls to reopen in Nevada County, across California

Nevada County doctors change approach to providing care due to COVID-19

The trifecta: Public health experts recommend testing, contact tracing and supported isolation to phase into a reopened world

Investigating the impact: Lack of revenue, uncertain return date causes concern for arts and entertainment venues

Impacts of Idaho-Maryland mine to be revealed soon

Nevada County artists discuss how COVID-19 shutdown has affected them

‘The arts are essential’: Center for the Arts launches emergency relief fund

Real estate sales strong in Nevada County despite challenges

No slowdown seen in Nevada County construction industry despite COVID-19 lockdown

Nevada County government, home improvement and real estate representatives talk business during COVID-19

‘I’d like to place an order’: In light of COVID-19, the demand for home delivery services in Nevada County is at an all-time high

Grass Valley, Nevada City first to feel COVID-19 economic hit

See you soon? Small business owners struggle, but are hopeful for a brighter tomorrow in Nevada County

Nevada County businesses struggle navigating economic relief

Nevada County health care providers pivot on financial tight rope

‘A sudden and dramatic downturn’: Nevada County economy will be hurt for longtime following coronavirus slowdown, expert says

‘A recession, let alone a depression’: Western Nevada County businesses apply for federal loans, but most have yet to receive money

Nevada County businesses, governments, nonprofits navigate uncertain times, worry what’s ahead

RELATED RESOURCES

http://www.TheUnion.com/coronavirus

http://www.MyNevadaCounty.com/coronavirus

Coronavirus Guidance for Businesses/Employers

Nevada County Relief Fund for Covid-19

To contact Staff Writer John Orona, email jorona@theunion.com or call 530-477-4229.


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