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RivCo Board of Supervisors formally approves structurally balanced 2024-25 budget

Riverside County

The Board of Supervisors today formally approved a $9.2 billion budget for Riverside County government in the 2024-25 fiscal year that officials said is structurally balanced and will net reserves approaching $700 million.

"The recommended budget demonstrates the values that drive the important work of the county, focusing on improving the quality of life for residents, transforming the delivery of services, seeking systemic equity and achieving fiscal stability,'' according to an Executive Office statement posted
to the board's agenda.

County CEO Jeff Van Wagenen said at the end of budget hearings earlier this month that the board should take a cautious approach to spending going forward because "we know pressures will continue, costs will continue to mount and revenues will continue to flatten."

Under an appropriations plan the board revised on June 11, an additional $19.96 million will be allocated to cover agencies' costs in 2024- 25.

Among the larger outlays is $7 million more for integrated services,
under a reorganization of data banking, as well as $6.1 million more for the Department of Public Social Services and an extra $2 million for the Department of Animal Services, as the agency continues to streamline.   

The new budget represents an 11% increase over the 2023-24 spending plan.   

Van Wagenen said one of the chief concerns for departments going into 2024-25 will be the what-if's associated with the state's estimated $68 billion shortfall.

Supervisor Kevin Jeffries feared cuts in state appropriations to local governments for mandated services could be "potentially harmful."  

"The state budget is tanking by billions and billions of dollars, and history shows that local governments usually follow a year or two later,'' he said.

One of the bright spots going into the next fiscal year, which starts July 1, is the county's reserve pool is expected to hit $698 million, compared to $590 million at the end of 2022-23. Executive Office staff estimated county discretionary revenue -- which, unlike programmed funding, the board may use for any purpose -- will top out at $1.22 billion, a $100 million increase over 2023-24.

Van Wagenen said there are remaining 2021 American Rescue Plan Act funds in the county treasury, but they'll have to be spent by the end of the year. The county received $480 million in ARPA allocations and another $500 million in 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief & Economic Security Act money. The federal infusions have been applied to "budget stabilization," community development, infrastructure projects and related programs.  

Under the new budget, $2.6 billion will be appropriated to the Riverside University Health System, the largest set-aside in the spending plan, at 27% of total expenditures. The outgo translates to a 5.6% increase in healthcare-oriented obligations.

Public safety agencies are next, with $2.2 billion in expenditures, 8.5% more than the current year's outlays and 23% of the composite budget, while the social services portfolio will receive $2.1 billion in General Fund receipts, also representing an 8.5% increase compared to 2023-24 and comprising 21.4% of the overall budget.   

The board will make final modifications to the spending blueprint in September, after the state Legislature wraps up its session.

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