Monday, February 06, 2006

Solano County's budget holding up this fiscal year

Article Launched: 02/06/2006 06:20:25 AM

Solano County's budget holding up this fiscal year

By Jason Massad/Staff Writer

Solano County's $769 million budget is holding up well under the twists and turns of the first six months of the budget year, county officials report.

But as is as usually is the case, county administrators are keeping a wary eye at the state level for proposals that could affect the county's budget now and in the future.

Still, the county projects its general fund balance will tally nearly $34 million by year's end.

"Because of the uncertainty in Sacramento, Solano County needs to prepare itself for a worst-case scenario and be ready to implement resource reduction strategies during

the remainder of fiscal year 2005-06," according to a county report, written by County Administrator Michael Johnson.

Solano County supervisors will listen to the details of its mid-year financial report at their Tuesday meeting. The board is scheduled to meet at 9 a.m. in the Solano County Government Center, 675 Texas St.

The first order of discussion could be a state proposal for an $800,000 reduction this year in the county's appropriations for the CalWORKs population.

The cuts are based on lower-than-anticipated spending this year on childcare for the county's CalWORKs recipients across the state. The state proposal, advocated by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, has yet to be finalized.

For next year, the county is also keeping a wary eye on the state.

The governor's multi-billion dollar infrastructure proposal could obligate the state's general fund to pay an increasing amount of debt on those bonds, which restrict revenues that could flow to counties.

Welfare services could be on the chopping block. County budget officials predicted

that the county could lose $3.4 million in child welfare services, programs for employment and eligibility and food stamp programs.

It's not all bad news, however.

Shifts in the way the state has collected property taxes could revert back to the methods used several years ago, resulting in a total of $350 million for cities and counties statewide.

Meanwhile, the governor is promising a committment to Prop. 42, which guarantees gas taxes are to be used for road improvements.

That could mean state payments to the county that have been delayed to maintain its road network could be paid next year. The payments could total $1.4 million, according to the report.

County budget officials said the state's financial picture could change.

"(It) could change quickly due to the state's own fiscal instability and structural budget imbalance," the report said.

The county's departments for the most part are staying in projected budgets and no red flags have appeared mid-year, the report said.

The county's IT department, for instance, had nearly $1 million more in revenues at the mid-year point than was anticipated.

According to the report, the money will be reinvested in the department for agreed-upon technology upgrades.

Jason Massad can be reached at

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