Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Solano County County Finances Solid

May 2, 2004

County finances solid -- for now

By Robin Miller/City Editor

Solano's budget is in relatively sound financial condition but caution is the word of the day for county officials.

That's the message being sent to the Solano County Board of Supervisors in a third quarter financial report to be considered at 9 a.m. Tuesday, when the board holds its regular meeting.

The report anticipates a general fund balance for the county of $19,336,180. County Administrator Michael Johnson recommends that the board accept the findings and set hearings for June 28 to debate next year's final budget.

In his report to the board, Johnson said that while the budget situation is sound, there are too many uncertainties at the state level to allow local officials to relax.

"Given the continuing uncertainties surrounding the state's fiscal situation, nothing is certain," he wrote in a report to the board.

He noted that if the county plans for potential shortfalls in state funding, its current sound financial position will help it to address any long-term problems. For example, the third-quarter report assumes that the county will not receive backfill payments from the state for a three-month gap in vehicle license fees. By not counting on those funds, the county will keep itself out of a situation in which it comes up short of funds, Johnson said.

"If we take this approach, we shouldn't have to resort to across-the-board reductions that would continue low-priority programs at the expense of higher priorities," he wrote. "This strategy should also preclude the necessity for the mass layoffs anticipated by other agencies."

Johnson added that during the first nine months of the current fiscal year, most county departments have "performed well in controlling expenditures and are projecting to stay within or very close to their budgets."

Robin Miller can be reached at citydesk@thereporter.com.

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